Meet the Team

Ladies’ Shoe Buckles, metal and glass, c. 1780-1790s, DMDA handling collection

Meet the research team, from the University of York; the project design team; and the advisory Board, made up of academics and curators from across the world.

Research Team

Dr Cordula van Wyhe

Senior Lecturer
Department of History of Art, University of York

Headshot - Cordula Van Wyhe

Cordula’s intellectual journey began in the Low Countries, where she first developed her interests in seventeenth-century religious and political imagery, royal patronage, and court culture. She is committed to a humane art history that strives to understand how our visual and tactile engagement with form and matter creates meaning. She conceived and edited books on Female Monasticism in Early Modern Europe (2009), Isabella Clara Eugenia: Female Sovereignty at the Courts in Madrid and Brussels (2012), Margaret Van Noort: Spiritual Writings of Sister Margaret of the Mother of God (1635–1643), trans. by Susan Smith with an essay by Paul Arblaster (2015), and Rubens and the Human Body (2018). In recent years, she has expanded her research and teaching to dress history beyond the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Cordula is passionate about teaching as a collaborative venture of co-discovery and knowledge creation. 

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Dr Susan Vincent

Research Associate
Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (CREMS), University of York

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Susan has worked as a primary school teacher, a copy editor, and in a factory making polystyrene products (not in that order). In recent decades she has gained international recognition as a dress scholar. Originally addressing the cultural history of dress in early modern England, she continues to expand her research interests across chronologies and sartorial genres. She is the author of three books (Dressing the Elite: Clothes in Early Modern England, 2003; The Anatomy of Fashion: Dressing the Body from the Renaissance to Today, 2009; and Hair: An Illustrated History, 2018), and General Editor of Bloomsbury’s six-volume A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion (2017). Susan is adamant that academic writing needs to be dragged – kicking and screaming if necessary – into being more pleasurable and engaging.


Dr Chris Holland

Senior Lecturer in Natural Materials
The University of Sheffield

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Chris Holland is a senior lecturer in Natural Materials at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield. He has pioneered the use of physical science tools to gain new and deeper insights into the biodiversity, structure, and evolution of natural materials with specific reference to silk.  He was part of the ‘Oxford Silk Group’ at Oxford University led by Prof Fritz Vollrath; a research project dedicated to understanding the evolution, ecology, physics, and chemistry of silk. Silk was an important material for the dress accessories of the past, specifically used in the manufacture of parasols.

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Lauren Cheetham-Birmingham

Student Research Assistant
University of York

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Lauren is the University of York Student- Research Assistant at the DMDA for 2022, a position sponsored by the Career’s Placement Project and the History of Art Department at the University of York. After graduating from a BA in History at York, Lauren is now undertaking an MA in Medical History and Humanities.

Alongside her studies, Lauren was part of the HerStory community project helping to create a biographical style article and presentation on a Victorian woman, Mary Anne Felgate, a ladies’ companion at The Retreat, which provided the foundations for a museum exhibition. She looks forward to exploring curation and the 19th century further, having enjoyed investigating the significance of the nurses’ uniform in her BA dissertation titled ‘The “ideal nurse” in the Cherry Ames Series and the Sue Barton Series: Post-war Britain and the NHS’s Working Women’. Her passion for interdisciplinary studies led her to this opportunity with the Digital Museum of Dress Accessories and she hopes to bring a variety of perspectives to her work supporting the museum’s curation.


Student Assistants

Alex Byas

University of York

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Alexander always had an indiscriminate and broad passion for the History of Art, be it the study of the Qin dynasty in ancient China to contemporary art. A seminal experience for him was his encounter with the Forbidden City in Beijing and the many hangers in which the Terracotta Army in Xian in China are kept. Since then, Alexander has become fascinated by the changing and varied visual media, meanings, and discoveries that he can study as part of his degree. He has a particular interest in the wider cultural impact of the 15th-and 16th-century Italian Renaissance and its afterlife in the artistic practice of today.

Alexander is part of the team for the 2022/23 collaborative research project between the DMDA and Leeds Museum and Galleries on their parasol collection.

Natasha Crane

University of York

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Natasha is a second-year History of Art student at the University of York. She found her love of art in the Impressionist and post-Impressionist collections in London, where she grew up. Since then, she has increasingly become interested in 20th-century art, fashion, and design/making. She enjoys exploring the extensive collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum on rainy days.

Natasha also acts as a Gallery Assistant for the Norman Rea Gallery at the University of York, where she works as part of an amazing team to curate and put on exhibitions and events.

Natasha is part of the team for the 2022/23 collaborative research project between the DMDA and Leeds Museum and Galleries on their parasol collection.

Elizabeth Dunnett

University of York

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Coming from an academic background in archaeology, Elizabeth is a dress historian with almost a decade of practical experience in historical sewing. Though her main focus is the long eighteenth century, she has worked on projects spanning the sixteenth through to the twentieth centuries. She is currently studying for a Masters in Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of York.

The DMDA Handling Collection has some items of historical dress (including shoes) and their supporting garments, so that we can show the relation of dress accessories with the body. Elizabeth helps the DMDA with any needle and sewing work required for outreach events.

Katie Wilkinson

University of York

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Katie is a third-year undergraduate History student at the University of York. She has developed a particular interest in women’s experiences in past societies and their engagement with cultural forms.  Her interest in this field of study was sparked by degree modules on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century female fashion.

Katie completed a project for the York Archaeological Trust where she worked as part of a small team to curate an exhibition on the life of an eighteenth-century seamstress. Here she furthered her skills in object handling, photography, and museum labelling. She is also a regular contributor to the he York Historian with articles on women of the past who have been overlooked by historians.

Katie is part of the team for the 2022/23 collaborative research project between the DMDA and Leeds Museum and Galleries on their parasol collection.


Advisory Board

Charlotte Gere

Independent Scholar

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Charlotte Gere is an exhibition curator and social historian, with an emphasis on women’s place in the arts, design and decoration. She has published on Victorian decorative arts, dress, jewellery, homes and gardens and women collectors. She is the author of Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, Mirror to the World (with Judy Rudoe), and Artistic Circles, Design and Decoration in the Aesthetic Movement, on artists’ houses, both published in 2010. Recent catalogue essays include studies of Lawrence and Laura Alma-Tadema at home, Edward Burne-Jones portraits, James Tissot’s London house, and the Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ domestic responsibilities. In 2019 she co-curated the British Museum exhibition ‘At Home: Royal Etchings by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’, which was accompanied by a display of an important gift of hair-work jewellery and accessories.


Dr Helen Manchester

School of Education, University of Bristol

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Helen’s research explores the co-design of cutting-edge creative digital technologies with groups who might generally feel themselves to be excluded from the digital environment. She works across disciplines to collaborate on methodologically innovative research projects with artists, technologists, young and older people, community organisations and policy-makers. She was involved in several projects on Bristol’s digital strategy, which resulted in publications on ‘Bristol City’s Future and the Role of the Digital’ (2019) and ‘Co-Creating a City Scale Digital Strategy and Framework: A Systems and Co-Production Approach’ (2019). She was also the principal investigator on a project ‘Empowering Citizen-Orientated Smart City Innovation in Mexico’ (2019–21) and is currently leading a project on ‘Connecting through Culture as We Age: Digital Innovation for Healthy Ageing[S1] .’ Besides her extensive research on inclusiveness, and intergenerational exchange, she recently expanded her research to ‘Beyond Landscape’s Visible Realm: Recorded Sound, Nature and Wellbeing’ (2020).

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Prof. Alison Matthews David

School of Fashion, Ryerson University

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Alison specialises in archival and object-based dress research, including the incorporation of scientific insights. Her book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present (2015) and its related exhibition (Bata Shoe Museum, co-curated with Elizabeth Semelhack, 2014–18) included such scientific approaches to illuminate health and ethical issues in the making and wearing of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century garments. She is committed to making history more accessible to the general public, and co-founded and co-edits the open access journal Fashion Studies. She has also co-authored (with Serah-Marie McMahon) a book for 9–12-year-old readers, Killer Style: How Fashion Has Injured, Maimed and Murdered Through History. Her current project is ‘Fabric of Crime: Forensic Histories of Fashion’. It has produced preliminary articles already, and will culminate in a book and exhibition.

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Dr Alun Withey

Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter

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Alun is an expert in early modern medical history, and his research interests include domestic medicine, the medical marketplace, gender and the sick role, and the lived experience of sickness. He is also interested in the area where fashion, technology and heath intersect, recently completing a major research project on facial hair. This culminated in the publication of Concerning Beards: Facial Hair, Health and Practice in Britain, 1650–1900 (2021), which includes the changing understandings of the nature of facial hair, the changing role of barbers/barber-surgeons, and the impact of new technologies upon decisions to shave. Alun is the author of two further books: Physick and the Family: Health, Medicine and Care in Wales c. 1600–1750 (2012), and Technology, Self-Fashioning and Politeness in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Refined Bodies (2015).

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Design

Dr Marjorie Coughlan

York Art History Collaborations (YAHCs) Administrator, Department of History of Art, University of York

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Marjorie designed and set up this initial pilot DMDA website, launched in November 2021. She has loved working on this project, which is giving her new insight into bits and bobs both handed down through the family and picked up at antiques fairs and the like since she was a child. Her research interests focus on nineteenth-century sculpture; landscape painting, especially in Italy; the history of photography; and children’s literature and book illustration.


Benjamin Bowles

Digital Impact Strategist

Benjamin is a Collections and Archives Assistant at the York Archaeological Trust and Director of the online memorabilia museum Fencing Arms & Artifacts. He has spent more than 12 years publishing web and social content for small businesses, non-profits, and heritage causes. Benjamin is currently finishing a masters in Digital Heritage at the University of York and specialises in digital imaging and digital collections management.

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VIDAVEO produced the curatorial videos:

Adam Gill

Creative Producer/Director, Vidaveo

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Adam Gill is a creative producer/director with extensive experience in international broadcast television production. He has directed productions for the Discovery Channel, Disney, Sky Italia, Aljazeera English Channel and the BBC. As well as developing projects for online and social media, his company ‘VIDAVEO’ has concentrated on developing innovative uses of new technology, specifically interactive and immersive 360 experiences.

The Highlights of Adam’s career so far have been, interviewing Stephen Hawking for a Discovery Special Feature, Exec Producing Disney Channel Italia’s daily live show, filming a Rocket Launch in Kazakhstan and being Lead Creative Producer for Aljazeera’s US Presidential Coverage.


Add Two Digital is the digital agency who will be creating the final project website, including animations and interactive charts:

Adam Frost

Content Director, Add Two Digital

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Adam Frost was formerly head of data visualisation at the Guardian’s digital agency. He is now content director at Add Two, an agency specialising in data visualisation. His work has appeared on the Guardian, the New Statesman, Buzzfeed and elsewhere.


Tobias Sturt

Creative Director, Add Two Digital

Headshot - Tobias Sturt

Tobias Sturt was head of creative at the Guardian’s digital agency and is now creative director of Add Two. He has been working in digital storytelling for almost two decades using all kinds of media – from web to TV, games and infographics.


Jim Kynvin

Add Two Digital

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Jim Kynvin is a senior designer at Add Two. He has created and developed concepts for a whole range of projects – clients have included the Royal Society, Wellcome Trust, London First and Nestle.

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