Networked_Performance

“Pollinator Frocks” by Karen Ingham

Populations of insect pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths and the plants on which they depend, are declining at alarming rates due to deleterious human activity. These symbiotic relationships must be protected. Through interdisciplinary collaboration with entomologists, botanists, microscopists, surface pattern technologists and print and coating engineers, artist Karen Ingham is creating a prototype range of clothing that will, through public engagement with art and science, raise greater awareness of these important issues.

The Pollinator Frocks Project is a limited edition collection of clothing based on scanning electron microscopy images of plant pollen grains linked to endangered pollinators. These digitally enhanced images form the basis for a range of striking and unusual printed fabrics, which act as ‘wearable gardens’. The fabrics will be treated with pollinator food sources that replicate nectar, which will be specially coated onto the fabric prior to cut and assemble as ‘pollinator frocks’ (loose fitting unisex clothing).

Working with technologists at the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating research is also underway that looks at olfactory attractants and iridescent coatings that mimic the way insects view flowers. The designs consist of ‘day-wear’ for insects such as bees and butterflies and ‘evening-wear’ for moths. In the urban environment where garden space is limited and nectar rich plants rare, the clothing can be hung out as clothes are hung on a washing line, to act as an attractant to pollinators. As part of the public engagement events the fabrics will be sited in a variety of environments and locations to raise public awareness and test the efficacy of the prototype designs and coatings.

The collection will be trialed in the UK over summer 2010 before being tested for a more substantial period in New Zealand’s Pukekura Botanic Parklands as part of the art, technology and ecology event SCANZ 2011. The final stage of the project will be to open discussion with environmental clothing design companies to produce a limited edition of the pollinator frocks with a share of the profits going to the charities BugLife and PlantLife.

Pollinator Frocks is being supported by: the art, science and technology network SATnet at Swansea Metropolitan University, the Welsh Assembly Government, and Wales Arts International.

Collaborators

SATnet
Swansea Metropolitan University’s The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating
Dr. Thierry Maffeis and Swansea University School of Engineering
Dr. Miranda Whitten and Swansea University School of Biological Sciences
The Society for the Promotion of Palynological Research in Austria
The National Botanic Garden of Wales
Grace Ironside, CIRIC
Elinor Frankland and Tim Stokes, Video Artist: tim.stokes [at] smu.ac.uk


Jan 18, 15:35
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