Gray’s student designs textiles collection inspired by autism

A Gray’s School of Art student has created a collection of interactive textiles inspired by autism as part of her final year.

Ellie Turner Degree Show 2016Ellie Turner (21) has designed a range of textiles with tactile and interactive surfaces that aim to spark interesting sensory reactions for those with autism.

Her interest in the subject was inspired by her brother Callum, who is autistic.

“Autism is a huge part of my family's life and growing up with my brother, Callum, has really shaped the way in which I approach my creative processes,” Ellie explained. “Throughout my initial research, I referred to diaries and notebooks my mum kept throughout the time myself and my brothers were growing up.

“She wrote about different factors that affect the behaviour of individuals with autism and sensory stimulation was highlighted. This led me to focus on that topic as I developed my research. For people with autism, their senses can really be a gateway to experience and expression.”

The former Portlethen Academy pupil has worked closely with her brother as part of the project, recording a video in which they interact with one another and some of the materials she has created.

“Callum is really excited about my project,” she said. “It's really lovely to involve him in the process of my work.”

Ellie visited SensationALL in Westhill, which provides therapeutic activities and specialist support for individuals with a range of disabilities or multiple support needs, their families and associated professionals, as well as the sensory room at Inchgarth Community Centre while doing her research.

She said: “I developed my material choices from these visits, looking at the texture and weight of the fabrics within the sensory rooms. I have developed my printed outcomes into cushion-like structures that are designed to be playful, interactive pieces that encourage motor movement.

“Each structure is filled with a combination of materials that encourage sensory stimulation. For instance, I've used polystyrene packaging that makes a loud crackling noise when it's squeezed and wadding that feels really soft and malleable.”

Ellie has also worked with Aberdeen composer Pete Stollery to create a sound piece to accompany the video she made with her brother.

She said: “I've recorded the sounds of my materials and the different ways I've interacted with them. Throughout my research it was apparent that household sounds and textures can give strong sensory reactions too, so I've also recorded noises such as a door shutting and fast running water from a tap.

“I hope that the final video will give an insight into how someone with autism might experience sensory stimulation and encourage people to find out a bit more about it.”

Ellie’s work will go on display at the Gray’s School of Art Degree Show, which is sponsored by BP for the thirteenth year, and runs from June 18 to 25.

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology