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Sharon Bainbridge

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design


Sharon is a Senior Lecturer on our BA (Hons) Design for Stage and Screen (Costume Design and Construction) course, and currently specialises in millinery, contextual studies, collaborative working and curating. With Module Leadership in Contextual Studies across the course, it’s Sharon’s goal to build our undergraduates’ critical thinking skills: furthermore, she aims to develop their awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, and its impact and applications throughout the industry.

As a personal tutor, Sharon uses her coaching skills and mentoring experience to support the academic and professional development of our students, helping them to identify, refine and pursue their own prospective career paths.

Career overview

Throughout her academic and industry career, Sharon has worked in an interdisciplinary and collaborative context – training first in textiles and embroidery, before progressing into millinery and fine art textile practice. Sharon had a couture millinery business and ran short courses in millinery and textiles whilst beginning her academic career.

As Course Leader in Millinery, Sharon developed a Northern group of practitioners and worked extensively with Hat Works – the Museum of Hatting – to support this niche industry. Other aspects of her academic work include devising and teaching on Masters level programmes, coordinating a Short Courses Business Unit, and delivering art and design courses to all ages and abilities. Her research work has explored the semiotics and meaning within objects and textiles – jointly underpinned by collaborative commitments to sustainable practice, and bringing academia into the wider world.

Sharon’s career highlights include:

  • creating and curating Hot Heads – Top British Milliners (2012), an internationally received exhibition of the ten most innovative milliners
  • taking over the Victoria Quarter in Leeds for International Wool Week, and promoting work by 25 undergraduates as part of Fibre to Fabric – Textiles is Alive in West Yorkshire (2013)
  • Re-Western (2017), a curated exhibition of the work of Texan fine artist Felice House. The exhibition explored regendering of the Western: it received exceptional PR and footfall, and lead to sculpture and interactive photography projects.

Sharon’s own millinery work is housed in the permanent collections of several prominent museums and galleries, and she has exhibited around the world. In 2018, she made the hats for the Crucible's production of Kiss Me Kate. Sharon has twice reached the finals of Hat Designer of the Year, and was awarded the Aquascutum Prize for Design.

She has taught millinery in both further and higher education. She was the Course Leader at Leeds College of Art, where she coordinated and delivered new programmes, whilst developing industry links and professional support networks. She also led a research cluster at Leeds to help guide and support new work, whilst developing their curatorial and archive services in support of their exhibition programmes. Sharon has also taught on the University of Huddersfield’s Costume with Textiles degree, and has guest lectured at a number of other institutions.

Sharon has a Bachelor of Law with Honours (UWE); an MA in Art & Design (Textiles) (MMU); a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (University of Huddersfield); and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (FHEA), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). In 2013, she was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Scholarship to research millinery in museums across Europe.

Research areas

Sharon's research has explored collaborative practice – specifically, its potential in opening up new ways of working with practitioners, museums, the wider industry, and in the academic sphere. Sharon’s research also incorporates her own work and experience with Hat Works, exploring ways to support and build this niche area, and assessing its potential intersections with local communities.

Currently, Sharon is researching the differences between costume and couture millinery, whilst further exploring collaborative opportunities that will inform her teaching practice and approaches.

External activity

Sharon has volunteered with Hat Works since 2010, and continues to support their work.

She served as a practitioner on the V&A’s innovative Design for Life project, which used museum collections to encourage interest in design at a secondary school level. Furthermore, Sharon has recently collaborated with the Crafts Council on their Make Your Future initiative, again highlighting to school children the exciting range of professional pathways in art, design and craft.

Sharon has also served as external examiner for Staffordshire University on their MA in Creative Practices.


Bainbridge, S. 2017 From Fibre to Fabric. Creating Innovative Learning Perspectives on Yorkshire’s Wool Heritage through collaborative practice p106 in

Merrill, B. Gonzales-Monteagudo, J. et al (Eds) 2017 Adult Learning, Educational Careers and Social Change Seville, University of Seville/ESREA  ISBN:978-84-617-8989-4

Re-Western Felice House 2017 exhibition