First Tutorial and Research Material

Throughout the remainder of the Easter break I continued with the drawing process and textile developments. This was to enable my research to be visualised as well as internally absorbed and to allow for a development of successful imagery for a wide audience. Other points of research were found through Alzheimer’s Society’s research projects which offered new drug testing to cure the disease. This research projects were incredibly scientific in approach, but on did offer an exploration into insulin-like drugs on the disease. The study didn’t fully extend my knowledge, but did allow for new terminology to be characterised through Indian ink drawings and provide with a more extensive coverage of the issue. For example, one of the most interesting phrases was, “Amyloid plaques are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease and are thought to play a large role in the development of the disease”. This then set my imagination running through ideas of visualising hall marks and metal plaques and relating the complex language through playful imagery. My experimentation also moved away from A3 Indian Ink drawing, back to smaller 3-minute pen drawings which gave me a chance to become more spontaneous with ideas. I started to imitate the sounds of such scientific vocabulary to invent new shapes for each cell, and for smaller details to be described. Furthermore, I also expanded the felt drawings to create another pillow with a different concept and colour pallet. Within the new object I place on one side the “tsunami of neurodegeneration” (which is the most stand out phrases of my whole initial research) opposing with the idea of suffers “being away with the fairies” which is a saying commonly associated with the symptoms. This was successful as both designs were strong in communication, and portrayed both scientific and non-scientific approaches. Additionally, I realised that a pillow is significant in concept as the user will either rest their head (brain) or cuddle the object close to their stomach (the pancreas). This can be symbolic of love and thoughtfulness of their internal health.

This preliminary research was crucial for the first tutorial as it allowed for more specific guidance to be given from my tutor. Leigh was excited and connected to the subject, with the only problem being that I haven’t discovered a specific message that I want to communicate to my audience. Furthermore, at the core of my work is an ability to turn difficult subjects into positive solutions- so this must be a major part of this project. To enhance this, I was advised to look into advertising and selling ideas in order to change people’s lives (in my case for the better). I am currently studying The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard, in which advertisers are systematically investigating our hidden weaknesses in order to change our behaviour to relate to a product.

Another point of further research in order to find a purpose to my investigation is the book, How Not to Die by Gene Stone and Michael Greger. The book examines the top fifteen causes of death in America and explores how altered nutritional habits could cure the diseases, sometimes better than prescribed medication. Within the book, there are chapters dedicated to “How Not to Die from Brain Diseases” and “How Not to Die from Diabetes”. Although the chapters do not intertwine in the same way as type three diabetes suggest, the prevention of both health issues are accelerated by lifestyle choices and can be prevented through plant based diets. The general issue is the trans fats found in meat and dairy products which cause life shortening diseases, and in some cases the symptoms can be reversed through natural plant food sources. The text has also allowed for more insight into how diet has affected the internal workings of the body and given more scenarios to visualise.

Felt Drawings

In response to the information gained through Diabetes UK, I began to visualise both the interesting scientific words which appear as foreign languages, and statements describing the health issue. I increased the scale of my drawing to A3 and chose to express the amyloid beta and the deposits found in both the brain tissue of an Alzheimer’s sufferer and the pancreas. By increasing the space, I was able to add more detail into shapes, and also use negative space to suggest the placement of body parts. Red ink was also used in some sections to signify danger and to block out sections of importance so as the focal point could be altered.

Although Indian ink drawings were successful in presenting visual shapes to the audience and communicating the scientific explanations, I wanted to explore how these could be translated into textiles. By using the left over felt from the zoo brief, I began recreate the most recent Indian ink designs using a range of coloured felt shapes. I used the same matching system as in the outcome of the previous project, and placed contrasting colours together with no more than four colours within each design. Each background is black to signify the internal position of these processes also creating a successful base for the colour schemes. This will also give a chance for the images to be inverted once photographed for additional colour pallet inspiration.

IMG_6531IMG_6537The intension was to create a series of 2D felt drawings so as to gain an idea of how my thoughts would appear in a softer medium, however I also constructed a cushion from two of the smaller drawings. These designs were abstracted from the A3 sketch communicating the link between the amyloid betas found in both the brain and the pancreas of suffers. The drawing consisted of crucial details which couldn’t be composed into one section of felt, and therefore needed to be spread across two parts (the pancreas on one and the brain on another). This was adequate but didn’t portray the strong link between the discovery in both organs. In order to highlight the research, I joined the two drawings together in cushion format where the audience can clearly interpret the correlation. Further details could be added such as a chain linking the two organs, or a line of felt across the seams to strengthen the concept.

Diabetes UK

To progress my research, I followed through on an offer to speak to a professional dietitian (through social media) who treats adults and children with diabetes.  The dietitian suggested that I looked at the information on the Diabetes UK website as there was a section explaining the current studies of Type Three Diabetes. Also purple foods, omega 3, dark chocolate, green tea, nuts, avocado and olive oils are all good foods for a healthy brain. Foods to avoid include salt, sugar and trans fats.

The information on Diabetes UK reinforced the knowledge I gained from the previous Women’s Health Article. The most interesting ideas within the section was that Alzheimer’s can develop without the presence of a significant hyperglycemia in the brain. Within Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes one of the main symptoms is a high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). The primary role of insulin is to allow cells to use glucose as fuel or to be stored as body fat. If there is insulin resistance then the glucose is deposited in to the blood stream and can cause hunger, tiredness or loss of concentration. However, if this is not a symptom of Type Three Diabetes, how can the issue be recognised? Other interesting statements included “Researchers have discovered that many Type 2 diabetics have deposits of a protein called amaloid beta in their pancreas which is similar to the protein deposits found in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s suffers.” This in particular inspired visual communications of linking the pancreas to the brain, and presenting the information to educate others of the science. Furthermore, more general research was carried out to help understand diabetes as a health issue, including in-depth explanations of insulin resistance and ketogenic diets. A ketogenic diet is also named a low-carb diet which encourages the body to gain energy from burning excess fat (ketones).  This is proven affective for those suffering with both Type 1 and Type 2, and could be used to reduce the insulin resistance in those with Type 3 diabetes.

Another source of research was to visit the Huntarian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. The museum is a collection of human and non-human anatomical specimens dating back to the 17th century. The purpose of the visit was to understand the form of the human brain and to sketch details as photographs could not be taken inside the galleries. Unfortunately, the trip was rather unsuccessful as the current collection housed a majority of animal artefacts rather than human and therefore I couldn’t gather the intended information.


Type Three Diabetes

Following my previous brain storm, it was necessary to narrow my concept into one research path. To do this I studied Women’s Health magazine April 2017 which proved a good source of up to date scientists research. Health magazines are full of headlines and advice on which food to consume, how to exercise and a general review on the well-being of the human body. The articles in April 2017 included information of subject such as; probiotics, wheat free diets, fitness bloggers and mindfulness. However, the most interesting article was titled ‘Future-Proof Your Brain’ with the summary of ‘Pioneering research linking Alzheimer’s with diabetes offers new hope that diet and lifestyle changes could provide protection. And the earlier you take action, the better.’ This instantly caught my attention because the article linked my interest in food intake/well-being to a widely discussed and feared disease. The article is explaining that some scientists are calling for the disease to be renamed as ‘Type Three Diabetes’ as much like type two diabetes, insulin can be rejected from the brain. Professor de la Monte studied rats that had insulin deprived brains and found that the animals became disorientated and not able to find their way through a maze. The rats suffered brain shrinkage which is a common defect caused from Alzheimer’s disease. After this discovery the scientists performed autopsies on human brains and found that those who had died from Alzheimer’s also had insulin deprived brains. The article further explains that ‘brain cells require double the glucose levels of normal cells, so if the brain becomes resistant to insulin it sparks a tsunami of neurodegeneration’ meaning the brain starves. Alzheimer’s can occur decades before the symptoms are recognisable, and a diet with a high sugar or processed food intake will accelerate the brain degeneration. The best foods to eat are ‘whole foods’ including fruits, vegetables and cereals- less red meat. Taking regular exercise, or allowing the brain to be challenged can also prevent the disease.

In particular, I found that the new medical term and links between brain shrinkage and lifestyle choices were subjects I could respond to through visual medias. Before creating a visual brainstorm, I also wanted to discover the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. In summary Dementia is a general term for memory loss and disorientation, although Alzheimer’s is the cause of 50%-70% of all dementia cases.

To begin the visual process, I highlighted playful words or descriptions within the article which I could reimagine. I began with using black Indian ink as it is a loose medium allowing for freedom of brush strokes, but also encourages a fast paced working style so all ideas can be recorded. I also added red ink to highlight certain sections of the drawing and to enter in sections of colour which could later be digitally changed. Some of my most visually successful sketches are those with a playful description of the scientific detail, for example the image with the brain in the washing machine explaining the shrinkage of the organ.


FMP Starting Points

After discussing my FMP concept with my tutor, I have decided to consider food and health headlines as my exploration. This is extending my first project of Coeliac disease further than a niche audience, and understanding how scares and strong media influences can affect the intake of an individual. At present I have a broad range of examples to play with, and the only way to find a more focussed discussion is by working visually and researching together. This will allow me to experiment with imagery and medium whilst discovering which issues need to addressed.

To start the process, I created a list of health headlines which have affected the way that I have approached food both negatively and positively. I have then visualised these concerns within a number of postcard sized drawings so as I can test the strength of the visuals.

At the moment my list consists of;

Blue rays from phones ruining your eyes

Burnt toast will give you cancer

Dairy makes you fat

Sausages will also give you cancer

Is it unethical to eat egg?

Green teas and black coffee will heal everything

The contraceptive pill will give you a stroke

Gum will stay in your system for 7 years if you swallow

Charcoal makes you teeth white

Sugar or sweeteners?

Skinny jeans, fur hoods and cross bags will hurt your back

Blue berries are brain food

Blueberries also help eliminate baby blues

Too many bananas= too much potassium

10 a day or 5 a day?

Rainbow food is good for you

Caffeine is evil

Red meats could be horse meat

If I eat meat will I harm the environment?

Tomatoes help fertility


It is impossible to keep up with all these diet changes, and therefore which media announcements can we trust? The next steps in my research will aim towards one subject which I can investigate thoroughly and will comfort concerns. I shall listen to health announcements on the news and breakfast shows such as ITV’s This Morning. I feel it may also be useful to watch documentaries such as ‘Food Unwrapped’ and to buy health magazines to get a good overview of the current situation. If I was to focus my studies on veganism, a good source of discussion would be the book eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, as he discusses the dangers of eating meats and processing.

This is only the start of my research and I am welcoming any interesting topics surrounding health, fitness of well-being. I shall look into these research avenues and find one smaller topic which I can then focus on and expand my knowledge.

Saatchi Gallery: Painter’s Painters

To gather inspiration for the upcoming Final Major Project, I took a research trip to the Saatchi Gallery as I find there is always a good overview of contemporary visual culture. The current exhibition is Painters’ Painters which is an exploration into the wide decline of painting as a medium and how young artists are now reviving traditional arts.

Unfortunately, the visit wasn’t particularly motivating as I couldn’t engage with many of the exhibits. However, I did connect with the work of David Salle whose striking compositions and pallet choices create large scale painted collages. Salle gains references from magazines, stock photographs and pornography to create sections of work within one border. The most successful aspect of his work is that the audience gains a new viewing experience when the angle of sight or distance is altered. When photographing Salle’s work, I saw new aspects through the screen of my phone which I didn’t recognise by the naked eye. It is also impressive that within each painting the audience can form their own opinions and narratives as the imagery is ambiguous. The artist doesn’t share too much information and blocks the audience from the reality. This in turn allows each abstracted and hidden detail to resonate in the mind as we try to place the content. Due to the layering present within the work, the artist’s process reminds me of my appliqued designs within the digital folklore outcome. Although the visual is painted as a while, it seems that there is physical layering of materials at some point within the experimentation and this could be something to consider within the experimentation stage of my project, as I could then layer up my Indian ink sketches to create the same disjointed effect.


Final Critique Comments

This final critique was one of my most successful feedback from both my tutor and fellow students. The most exciting part of showing my outcome was the positivity and interaction between people and the creatures. When I was explaining students wanted to sit and cuddle the outcome, perhaps without realising I had created elements of comfort which brought happiness to individuals. The feedback included suggestions of adult toys and larger installation pieces which immerse the viewer in a new imaginary world. I was commended on my abilities with textiles and the colour pallets of each creature. This is something that I was struggling with at the beginning of the year and I have now broken through the laziness of using black and white to become a colourist. I was also pleased with the comments on quality and craftsmanship of the outcome as I did struggle with the stuffing stage of the process as I felt a pressure to get the filling perfect. Ironically the main concern of mine was the transport of the creatures would ruin the finish of the work, however the stuffing seemed to settle and with others hugging the creatures, the animals seemed to gain personality. I feel that both the digital folklore and zoo projects have been excellent stepping stones to progress my style ready for the Final Major Project.


I have begun to consider starting points for the FMP so as I can work on research over the Easter holidays. At the moment I am brainstorming concepts such as food confusion, health and fitness or cyber bullying. These are all subjects which I could thoroughly research and reflect upon. My aim is to problem solve and replicate the comforts which I have brought through in past projects.

My Tutor’s comments;

“My feeling is that your head leads you to difficult subjects, your heart to positive solutions and your hand to beautifully crafted designs” Leigh Clarke