Co Create

Babushka and Me

Creating a Co-Designed Legacy

Claire A Baker, Jayne Wallace, Ellen Sampson, Emma-Jane Goldsmith

Through reciprocal relationships the co-design of new, emotionally durable [textile] artefacts is investigated.
The tiny, dispersed community of

the Chernobyl exclusion zone- the ‘Babushkas’, will soon be nonextant leaving behind a disintegrating embroidered legacy.

Recent thinking on participatory design as a kind of anthropology has indicated a need for collaboration in the production of artifacts during fieldwork. By adopting the haptic manipulation of materials (hand-rendered collage techniques and digital interventions) the making of a new transcultural, affectional product is realised. Through an autoethnographical action-research methodology, designing cooperatively with individual participants, we contemporise their textile heritage extending the life of their ‘lost’

embroideries. Furthermore, the Babushkas’ personal narratives are shared visually through creative methods overcoming barriers such as language and location. Shared points of reference within different disciplines such as participatory artistic practice and ethnography are bound together and underpinned by nurtured connections with the isolated Babushkas.

This research addresses the importance of haptic methods and symbiotic relationships within a redesign process. At its heart lies a concept of equal exchange, sharing cross-cultural skills and knowledge where stories are discovered.

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