The Decoded Lab

  • Sonja Andrew (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper explores the role of textile practice as a means to express scientific enquiry, reporting on a case study from the University of Leeds Cultural Institute ‘Creative Labs: Biological Sciences 2nd Edition’. In this process, artists were paired with academics from the Faculty of Biological Sciences to engage in lab days, exploring how their divergent research backgrounds might lead to new collaborations. It enabled both parties to discuss ideas without an agenda, gradually establishing the focus of their engagement. Paired with biophysicists, textile artist Sonja Andrew initially developed creative work in response to their protein experiments, positioning textiles within a communication paradigm to explore how the scientists’ research could be visualised in 2D and 3D form. Whilst the science formed the catalyst for the textile practice, the biophysicists were also ‘viewers’ within the context of the textile explorations. They fulfilled a dual role of content provider and ‘informed audience’, becoming part of the cycle of ‘reflection in action’ (Schon, 2000; Getzel & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976) that informed the development of the artefacts. During the lab visits, the x-ray diffraction studies of textile physicist William Astbury became the focus for further creative exploration, with the aim of visualising the relationship between historical and contemporary science to engage viewers in considering how smaller exploratory studies lead to, and from, major scientific breakthroughs.
Period28 Nov 2020
Event titleBritish Society of Literature and Science Winter Symposium
Event typeConference
LocationSheffield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational