sound art & craft


Sam Topley is a sound artist from Leicester, UK. She works with textiles to create handmade electronic musical instruments and interactive sound art work, including giant pompom musical instruments, knitted or 'yarnbombed' loudspeakers, and electronic musical instruments with e-textile interfaces.

Topley shares her work internationally through performances, exhibitions, workshops and presentations. She has recently shared her work at Dubai Maker Faire (Dubai, UAE), Curve Theatre (Leicester, UK), A.P.T. Gallery (Deptford, London), The Wassaic Project (New York, USA), Red Gallery (Shoreditch, London), Punctum (Prague, Czech Republic), Lights of Soho (Soho, London), Dome of Visions (Stockholm, Sweden), 24kvm (Gothenburg, Sweden), Guildhall Arts Centre (Grantham, UK), R1 Nuclear Reactor (Stockholm, Sweden) and Phoenix Arts Centre (Leicester, UK).

Topley's work stems from a DIY culture, where artists craft, experiment and create with technology as a post-digital method of music making. Through participatory projects with new textile musical instruments, Sam explores the joyful and social experience of collectively 'musicking', which is not reliant on the virtuosity or mastery traditionally associated with playing an instrument, alongside ideas in collaborative crafting. Her instruments are designed to be playful and intuitive, seeking to create environments where music is made through the curiosity, imagination and idiosyncrasies of active participants. The projects have a broad socio-political intent and explore ideas in 'craftivism', where electronic textiles and DIY textile handcrafts are used to engage new audiences with creative music technology and experimental music making.

Sam is a doctoral researcher (PhD) at the Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2), De Montfort University, where she also lectures in experimental music, creative music technology and community arts practice. Her PhD is co-supervised by Nottingham Trent University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership). Topley has presented her research at Queen Mary University of London (2020), the University of Malta (2019) and the University of California San Diego (2018), and contributed to collaborative papers and workshops presented at New Interfaces for Musical Expression (Brisbane 2016 and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire 2020). She has participated in a number of residencies, including the eTextile Spring Break, New York, USA (2018 and 2019), at The Academy of Performing Arts, Prague CZ (2017), and twice at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm SE (2014 and 2016). She has performed within events such as LLEAPP at De Montfort University (2015) and the Noise Colloquium, University of Greenwich (2015), and was a co-organiser of the Art & Sound Symposium, Leicester, UK (2015).

(supervisors: Dr John Richards, Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd & Prof Leigh Landy)
De Montfort University, Leicester UK & Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham UK
Oct 2017 - present (part-time)

MA by Research
Thesis: Sound Art and Craft: Making and Playing Textile-Based Musical Instruments.
(supervisors: Dr John Richards & Dr Peter Batchelor)
De Montfort University, Leicester UK
Oct 2014 - Sept 2017 (part-time)

BA (Hons) Music, Technology and Performance
De Montfort University, Leicester UK
June 2014: 1st Class

Lecturer (short course)
Interactive Sound Art and eTextiles
Goldsmiths Creative Computing Summer School
Goldsmiths, University of London UK
August 2019

Lecturer (part-time)
(modules: Creating with Technology; Performing with Technology; Electronic Instrument Building; Music, Media and Community Arts)
Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity
De Montfort University, Leicester UK
Oct 2015 - present

Freelance Workshop Leader
May 2012 - present

Education Co-ordinator/Public Programmes Co-ordinator
National Space Centre, Leicester UK
Oct 2004 - April 2015

awards and features:
Winner of 'Featured Project Award' - Dubai Maker Faire 2019

Winner of Midlands4Cities AHRC Cultural Engagement Award 2019

BBC micro:bit Featured Artist 2019


Full CV available on request.

© Sam Topley 2020