Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Elizabeth Murton: New artist in residence explores textiles, tissues and tensegrity

UHArts has a new artist in residence, Elizabeth Murton. Murton is interested in the relationship between materials and mechanisms in the body. She asks how the structures of materials inside and outside the body can relate, inspired in part by the architecture of the UH Gallery space, as well as anatomical models in the university’s physiotherapy labs. She will  present her first major solo exhibition and symposium, Between Materials and Mechanisms, at UH Galleries in Hatfield from 17 September.

During her residency, Murton will be investigating the similarities between textiles and the fibres that hold the human body together. She has been inspired by the discovery that the body is not made of separate parts, neatly divided as they are in an anatomical model, but rather, an interconnected collection of tissues and fibres. Her project takes cues from architect Buckminster Fuller, whose work explored tensegrity: structures such as geodesic domes that spread tension through their parts rather than resisting gravity through simple, vertical compression. The human body is an example of biotensegrity, that holds itself together by balancing the tension of its many component parts. No single part of the body rests entirely on another part. Instead, all parts float within a sea of inter-supported fibres.

This initial stage in the investigation focuses on materials and structure. Elizabeth has begun to draw parallels between biological fibres and those that she might use in her work. The potential for internal fibres to be duplicated outside of the body in arts practice has been evidenced in projects such as Neri Oxman’s series of 3D printed masks, adapted from digital scans of bone and tissue, for Icelandic musician Björk. Such examples form part of wider discussions about the intersection of science and art, particularly how the relationship between scientific and creative disciplines are enabled through new technologies such as rapid prototyping. Elizabeth’s project will contribute to ever-expanding interdisciplinary practice by examining contemporary medical knowledge through craft.

More information and a blog accompanying UHArts residencies can be found here.