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Lauren Bowker: textiles, art, science

23 November 2011 by TexSelect in Alumni Stories

Lauren Bowker is a maverick who works at the intersection of textiles, art and science. One of Texprint’s 24 from 2011 and a recent RCA MA printed textiles graduate, her practice is a world away from the conventional route of creating patterned fabrics. Her vision lies in the exciting possibilities opened up by advances in printing inks, new technology and techniques. Lauren is inspired by “making the invisible, visible” and her work has produced a number of exciting and unusual outcomes.

Lauren Bowker: cabinet detail, RCA Work in Progress exhibition 2011

Intriguing is a word that best describes much of Lauren’s work – her exhibit for the Work in Progress exhibition at the RCA in January 2011 caused many visitors to stop and ponder. Entitled ‘Several stages to show the release of a phoenix’, it was a precisely arranged curiosity cabinet, reminiscent of a Victorian pharmacy, which contained glass jars holding specimens of charred paper, fabric and tools. Lauren revealed the mysterious finished concept at her final exhibition at the RCA in the shape of a fictional creature encased in a vintage glass display case. The magic began with a flick of a hidden switch as the ‘bird’ began to move and its feathers dramatically changed colour.

Feather detail, printed with thermochromic inks

The science behind this fascinating work involves the use of thermochromic inks. Lauren’s exploration of the uses of these and other ‘smart’ inks and materials is where her true interest lies. As well as currently developing possibilities for use in the ‘theatre of fashion’ for shows and exhibitions, Lauren’s work also holds the promise of more serious applications in healthcare. For example, colour changing inks can be highly useful in creating visual alerts for medical staff as warning of physiological changes. Lauren has recently secured a position as an assistant at the Northumbria University’s London-based research hub, and will soon be working with leading academics on an exciting, on-going project called Active Materials for Living.

Lauren Bowker at London Printworks Trust

In addition, Lauren has been given studio space at Brixton-based charity London Printworks Trust; an opportunity made possible through a bursary from the Leverhulme Trust. This will give her access to facilities to be able to continue her personal creative work. James Bosley, Texprint supporter and senior printmaker at London Printworks Trust, has been instrumental in assisting Lauren in this crucial stage of her career.

Lauren in the print room at LPT

A whirlwind recent few months has seen Lauren exhibit with Texprint in London, Shanghai and Paris. This generated much interest and resulted in freelance commissions which have kept Lauren very busy, as well as travelling across the UK to speak at various universities about her pioneering work.

Lauren is pushing the boundaries of what textiles can be, and Texprint was quick to recognise and support the exciting potential of this young creative with her innovative and original approach. 

To see Lauren speak about her work, visit this RCA video:

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For more on Active Materials for Living research at Northumbria

London Printworks Trust is a registered charity, based in Brixton, South London, with impressive printing facilities. The Trust’s work spans many activities and its aims include forging stronger links between art and design, providing support for small businesses and offering educational activities within the local community and beyond. In addition, it works to provide continuing professional development and has links with larger commercial companies that also use its facilities.

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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