Biomimicry using Embodied Materials in Paper Making Workshops

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Embodied materiality in my research was used as an investigation into the relationships between the affect of grief and the creative, embodied encounters with paper materials. In some types of traumatic loss, complicated grief can subsume the bereaved in a way like no other.

The research integrated creative practice, working with fibre-based materials, with the scholarly and cultural exploration of the literature and theory of mourning as a specific psychological state of mind. It was an exploration of the experience of mourning a complicated grief, through the sustained process of an embodied encounter with the materiality of making paper. Paper became the metaphor to discuss research questions that connected the maternal with affect in grief and the body that inputs Cartesian culture is feminised using affect of the embodied encounter with materials. The research was not into art therapy.

Using workshops in paper making, I was able to teach a module on fibre-based biomimicry to students to reflect on the relationship between materiality and affect. In making the substrate, I use the methodology of play; judgment is suspended, whilst the paper is being handmade to create individual materiality. Students learn to make paper and take their samples from the workshops home to hone their techniques, making more paper and reflecting on their new skills in their research blogs. This confirmed the space for the studio as the domestic, and the range of techniques from the students learning and my feedback fed into my learning and back out to the students again, fulfilling a circular feedback loop of educational and methodological techniques and reflection in the students and my research. The outcomes of each were successful.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFTC Futurescan 4
Subtitle of host publicationValuing Practice
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2019
EventAssociation of Fashion & Textile Courses (FTC) conference Futurescan 4: Valuing Practice - University of Bolton, Bolton, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Jan 201924 Jan 2019


ConferenceAssociation of Fashion & Textile Courses (FTC) conference Futurescan 4
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Paper
  • Making
  • Papermaking
  • Materiality
  • Biomimicry
  • Embodied Materiality
  • Textiles
  • Substrate


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