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‘Bio-inspired Craft’ by Elena Brebenel at the ARTIFEX gallery

With a focus on textiles and bio-inspiration, this body of work consists of interactive artefacts (i.e., wall- hangings kits) for the home that have the potential to raise awareness about the health of domestic environment, while contributing to participants’ well-being.

Bio-inspiration is defined as a process through which one can use and apply information from models found in nature. The artefacts created are drawing inspiration from the nest behavior of the blue tit (Cyanistes Caerulelus) female bird which consists of placing aromatic herbs with antimicrobial characteristics in its nest in order to protect its chicks against pathogenic bacteria and parasites. As a way to mimic this behavior, the artefacts require interaction with the participants. In order for that to happen, each is made of a panel and loose fragments. The fragments are infused with essential oils (of lavender and peppermint), and once taken out of the envelopes in which they are housed they can be added to the panel, thus releasing the essential oils. The action of unwrapping the fragments, finding their spot on the panel, and placing them requires attention and allows one to slow down. As a result, participants are engaged in mindful interactions that give them a sense of calm. Because the artefacts are interactive and accompanied by a text explaining what inspired the interaction, participants also gain agency and an awareness of health in relation to the environment in which the interaction takes place.

The work emphasizes the importance of craft, hand-making and an overall low-tech mode of production in the creation of everyday domestic objects as a way to create sustainable objects, that not only do not harm the environment through their making, but are also enduring through their craft qualities.

It aims to spark conversations about the inspiration behind the artefacts, the role of the interactions and the aesthetics of the artefacts as everyday domestic objects.This body of work is one of the outcomes of the ongoing PhD at UAL: Central Saint Martins in London, UK.

Elena Brebenel (b.1983) is a textile artist and designer who is interested in investigating the intersections between art, craft and design, through a highly experimental and research driven practice. Elena received her MFA in Textiles from the University of Kansas, USA and BA in Textiles from the ‘George Enescu’ National University of Arts, Romania. Elena’s work was widely exhibited including countries such as Canada, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, UK, Uruguay and USA. She has received numerous grants and was awarded residencies at Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside (Troy, NY, USA), Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, CA, USA), The Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia, PA, USA), Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas (Barcelona, Spain), Nature, Art and Habitat Residency (Bergamo, Italy), Contextile 2016 (Guimarães, Portugal) and Pocoapoco (Oaxaca, Mexico). Elena is currently an Assistant Professor in Textiles at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, while also undertaking a practice-based PhD at UAL: Central Saint Martins in London, UK.