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Department of History of Art



Lorna is a transdisciplinary academic with an interest in the relationship between visual media, history, and activism. Prior to working in academia, Lorna worked for an international airline. She completed an AHRC funded PhD at King’s College London on Violeta Parra’s Visual Art. Lorna took a career break after her PhD and worked part-time in academic administration.

She was an Associate Lecturer and Network Facilitator at the University of Kent. She also taught at King’s College London before returning to research with a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. Lorna held her Leverhulme Fellowship in the International Conflict Research Institute at Ulster University and the Centre of Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge, where she was also an Isaac Newton Trust Fellow. In 2022, Lorna was a visiting scholar at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Chile. She has been a course director at the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Cambridge since 2022 and she joined the Department of History of Art in 2024.


Lorna is a Latin Americanist, specialising in Chilean art and textile art. She is interested in the link between visual culture and history in Latin America and the broader Global South. Lorna’s current research explores the way embroideries, quilts and appliqués are used for cultural activism and memorialisation projects in Abya Yala (Latin America). Lorna is interested in street art, sewing groups and participatory needlework projects globally. Her work explores the value of artistic activism as a form of intangible cultural heritage. Lorna takes a decolonial feminist approach to research and is keen to undo structural biases in the field of art history.

Lorna is best known for her work on the Chilean artist Violeta Parra. She has published two books on Parra’s creative praxis, the edited volume Violeta Parra: Life and Work (2017) and the prize-winning monograph Violeta Parra’s Visual Art: Painted Songs (2020).  A co-written book entitled Violeta Parra: A Visionary Praxis is forthcoming with Lexington Books.  


  • Cultural diplomacy (art and peacebuilding)
  • The public humanities
  • Latin American art and visual culture
  • Chilean contemporary art
  • Chilean arpilleras
  • Colombian testimonial textiles
  • Feminist art collectives
  • African textiles
  • Textile art
  • Surrealism / AfroSurrealism
  • The wider societal impact of humanities research

Lorna’s work has been supported by organisations such as the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Institute of Fine Art at the University of New York, the Association of Art Historians, the Cambridge Africa Alborada Fund and the Chilean Consejo de la Cultura y las Artes.  

Lorna takes a transdisciplinary approach to research. She is interested in the co-creation of knowledge, the public humanities, the internationalisation of higher education, and the broader impact of humanities research. She is also interested in curating and current issues in the field of museology, such as debates surrounding the restitution of objects. Lorna is keen to develop collaborations with schools, community groups and art organisations. 

In 2022, Lorna co-curated the physical exhibition What lies Beneath: Women, Politics, Textiles for the Women’s Art Collection. A 3D legacy display of the exhibition can be seen on Kunstmatrix. Lorna has also curated a Latin American Art Festival as well as displays of Chilean arpilleras and Colombian testimonial textiles. More information about Lorna´s work can be found on her personal website.


Key publications: 


Dillon, Lorna. 2020. Violeta Parra’s Visual Art: Painted Songs. Cham: Palgrave Pivot. 

[Awarded the prize ‘Mejor Libro del Cono Sur 2020’ by the LASA Southern Cone Section.]


Dillon, Lorna, ed. 2017. Violeta Parra: Life and Work. Woodbridge: Tamesis. 


Journal Articles, Translations, Book Chapters and Reviews

Dillon, Lorna. 2024. Participatory needlework and human rights activism The Project Bordando por la paz y la memoria: una víctima un pañuelo [Embroidering for Peace and Memory: One Victim, One Handkerchief] Journal of Romance Studies 24:1 73-96.


Dillon, Lorna. (translator) and Isabel González Arango. 2023. “Claiming the Right to Memory, Stitch by Stitch. The experience of the Costurero Tejedoras por la Memoria de Sonsón (the Sonsón Memory Sewing Group)” The Textile Reader (London: Bloomsbury).  


Dillon, Lorna. 2023. “Patricia Vilches (Ed.), Negotiating Space in Latin America Brill” Journal of Latin American Studies 55:4 764–65. [Review]


Dillon, Lorna. 2023. “The Aesthetics of Global Protest; Global Activism and Art and Conflict in the 21st Century: edited by Aidan Mc Garry, Itir Erhart, Hande Eslen-Ziya, Olu Jenzen, and Umut Korkut” Visual Studies, 38:5 929-930. [Review]


Dillon, Lorna. 2022. “Repairing the Fabric of Society through Needlework” Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture. 4, 4: 74-80.


Dillon, Lorna. 2022. “Embroidery in Abya Yala” Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture. 4, 4: 119-128.


Dillon, Lorna, Lucy Phelps and Jennifer Wood (translators) 2022. “The Catch Up” In Poor Connection / Conexión Inestable. Edited by Catherine Boyle, Jack Tarlton, Lucila Cordone, Luis A. Medina Cordova, María Laura Ramos and Nicolás Lisoni. 201-211. 


Dillon, Lorna. 2018. “Repositioning the Popular: The Hybrid Aesthetics of Violeta Parra’s  

Paintings Machitún, Las tres Pascualas and Casamiento de negros.” Studies in Latin  

American Popular Culture 36: 145-160.  


Dillon, Lorna. 2017. “Violeta Parra’s Contribution to the 1960s Art Scene,” in Violeta Parra, Life and Work, edited by Lorna Dillon Cham: Tamesis.


Dillon, Lorna. 2016. “Religion and the Angel's Wake Tradition in Violeta Parra's Art and  

Lyrics.” Taller de Letras 59: 91-109. 


Dillon, Lorna. 2015. “Arpillera sobre Chile: cine, teatro y literatura antes y  después de 1973.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 92, 6: 728-729.  [Review]


Dillon, Lorna. 2011. “The Representation of History and Politics in Violeta Parra’s Visual  

Art.” In Seeing in Spanish: from Don Quixote to Daddy Yankee - 22 Essays on Hispanic  

Visual Cultures, edited by Ryan Prout, 252-267. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.  


Dillon, Lorna. 2009. “Defiant Art: The Feminist Dialectic of Violeta Parra’s Arpilleras.” In  

Identity, Nation, Discourse: Latin American Women Writers and Artists, edited by Claire  

Taylor, 53-56. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Teaching and Supervisions


At the University of Cambridge Lorna teaches in the Department of History of Art and the Institute for Continuing Education.

Research Associate