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Stitching Towards a True North: Illuminating the Reciprocal Healing Sutra

This practice-led research examines the transitional phenomena of textile praxis when applied as empathy, care and wellbeing, and its potential to become embedded as part of the healing process.

The coterminous practise of making, and in particular stitching, has revealed paradigms of wellbeing experienced during each embodied encounter.  Contextualisation of psychological and pedagogical cognitive processes provides an empowering and emotive prescient from the mind to the hand.

It is from a redolent engagement within textile practice that the invisible value of a researcher/practitioner’s observations can effectively assert a complimentary role.  Making facilitates personal, hand-held encounters that operate to shift negative mental states to positive.  The curiosity to identify where creativity resides in others has led to research in how textile agency becomes a reciprocal healing sutra.

Stitching articulates an opportunity for subjective serendipity to occur, providing an interchanging synesthetic complexity and mindful inquiry. Myriads of tacit and haptic encounters meld materials to communicate ancestral legacy and cultural value. Each stitch imbues a clew from a fleeting thought to a labyrinthine thinking process tangibly traced through the fabric. Time invested in making with textiles creates its own safe, emotional space. The materiality of textiles communicates a conscientious moment of transitional un-picking and re-stitching to create an authentic self, a trajectory to rediscover a true north.

I intend to position this research on the capacity to articulate nascent emotional data as new knowledge. Exploration will require participatory action research, focusing on reflexive triadic methods to create relational, non-discursive opportunities within differential groups. The potential arises to explore a fourth synergy to encapsulate the oscillating modes of inquiry and resulting viewpoints. 

Discussion, interaction and experiential textile making with participants, alongside the practice, will retrieve opportunities to explore kinaesthetic empathy, `soft logic`,projective identification, tacit knowledge and flow, providing an empirical contribution to textile agency and its unique taxonomy within the caring professions. Research will be facilitated, measured and practised safely within the healthcare context focusing on delivering practical textile workshops with participants in clinical environments. The aim is to take heuristic phenomenological approaches, collecting qualitative and quantitative data, illustrating and documenting all activity with films, photographs, artworks and exhibitions. 

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More about Alison

Fibre artist and Arts-in-Health practitioner Alison Mercer is former Artist in Residence within the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales. Recent research projects interface with the Dementia Services Unit at Bangor University, Engage Cymru and `Artiffact` North Wales Mental Health Partnership.

Alison has been awarded Arts Council of Wales funding and a Wales Arts International Award to exhibit and attend Sculptural Objects and Functional Art Fair (SOFA), New York, Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Korea, FibrePhiladelphia and Fibreart International touring exhibition in the USA.

Alison is a selected member of Fibre Art Wales and is currently involved with a touring exhibition Fibres in Focus, Dialogues and her solo exhibition, Ancestral Song.