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Textile proteins: past and present

In the 2019 ‘Creative Labs: Biological Sciences Edition’, textile artist Dr Sonja Andrew was paired with Professor Lorna Dougan and colleagues in her research group for three days of lab visits to explore their research. The collaboration led to a range of ideas around science communication and the team’s work with proteins, including outreach projects with schools and textile installations for wider public engagement. The images shown here are taken from film stills of Sonja discussing some of her initial creative responses with Dr Anders Aufderhorst-Roberts. This includes textile samples in response to different elements of the teams’ work observed during the lab visits, and digital images of textile physicist William Astbury’s x-ray diffraction studies of silk and wool proteins, developed from photographs found in textile technology journals (1920-1950) in the University of Leeds International Textile Archive. You can learn more about current research at the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology.

Example of an initial idea incorporating images from the historical work of William Astbury, textile physicist. Digitally enhancing the colour, large-scale silk viscose textile lengths would be printed for installation in the Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds. This image shows the background, as the designs would be developed to incorporate contemporary biophysics signifiers from the work of Professor Lorna Dougan’s team, using screen printing, transparent areas of imagery and text on the cloth, and light projection onto the digitally printed background, as part of an ongoing collaborative project.

Paul Wyatt’s film of the 2019 ‘Creative Labs: Biological Sciences Edition’ featuring a range of participating artists can be found at:

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