Essay research – working thoughts/plans


How can recycled or up-cycled materials be used by textile artists and practitioners as metaphors or analogies for a chosen narrative or theme?


The reason I add these two distinct definitions is due to one of the things I have really struggled with due to my Asperger’s since childhood is grammatical terms and how they are used and I wanted to be clear of my usage of these terms within my work and this essay.

Analogy  “When you drawn an analogy between two things, you compare them for the purpose of explanation” (vocabulary, s.d)


“A comparison between things that have similar features, often used to help explain a principle or idea” (, 2019)

Where this term fits in with my essay I feel is where recycled materials bear a direct relation to the narrative – in effect the recycled materials are not abstracted to create the narrative as they form part of the visual language without the need for manipulation.  Whereby metaphors, as noted below, use objects or materials to create a new narrative which in effect is abstracted – the narrative is indirect or not immediately obvious to the viewer using the materials in order to create a comparison or explanation.

Metaphor  “1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” 

2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.” (, 2019)

“variable noun

metaphor is an imaginative way of describing something by referring to something else which is the same in a particular way. For example, if you want to say that someone is very shy and frightened of things, you might say that they are a mouse.
...the avoidance of ‘violent expressions and metaphors’ like ‘kill two birds with one stone’.
…the writer’s use of metaphor.

2. variable noun

If one thing is a metaphor for another, it is intended or regarded as a symbol of it.
The divided family remains a powerful metaphor for a society tearing itself apart”   (, 2019)
  • Consider historical/cultural practitioners – archival research that informs the foundation of the essay
  • Investigate how contemporary textile artists are using recycled, up-cycled or found materials in their work and to what purpose? i.e. metaphors or analogies to raise awareness of a specific narrative or cause
  • Interview by email or telephone Becca Birtles and other practitioners with specific reference to methodology and found materials
  • Consider how found/recycled/up-cycled materials can be combined with traditional or innovative techniques and materials plus how these are used to convey the narrative – how does the material dictate whether the work becomes a direct analogy or indirect metaphor


I am wondering if you may be able to answer the following questions:

  1. what does the material provide on its own without manipulation? i.e. does the material suggest its concept or does the concept suggest the material?
  2. How do you adapt a material to tell the narrative? … do these materials tell us their story on their own or how much do you feel you need to adapt them in order to create the narrative?
  3. How does changing the material change what it is saying?
  4. Do you include any innovative or new materials or traditional techniques within the work? do you combine old and new?



  • Look at wide variety of textile practitioners before narrowing down those that really resonate
  • ‘Dream team’ of practitioners need to be able to answer the questions or the points of the essay
  • Email practitioners where possible and ask questions posed above
  • Look also at artists outside of textiles in order to broaden field of research but consider whether they can be included in the essay and if so how
  • Stay focused on essay subject but be prepared to look outside of the box …… print out artist statements/information in order to really read and narrow down the information in order to focus my writing
  • Reread course notes on essay writing!

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