Helen Pailing

Helen Pailing

Recrafting waste glass from the National Glass Centre: a collaboration between makers and matter.

Rooted in ideas of environmentally and socially conscious art production, the project sets out to expand studio practice through creatively exploring and documenting glass production waste from National Glass Centre (NGC). I aim towards a vision of ‘sustainability-as-flourishing’ (Ehrenfeld, 2013). I intend to create ‘active’ objects informed by ideas from environmental social sciences, appreciating all materials as valuable, vital matter (Bennett, 2010). Recraft is a key term i.e. the source material must have gone through a craft process. The process imparts a curious duality on the materials creating that which is prized and that which is rejected. This project aims to challenge the aesthetics of the recycling and examine the impact of individual and collective actions in the greater scheme of sustainability.

A cross-disciplinary approach to the methodology looks to actively explore contemporary art/craft production, bridging boundaries between fine art, design and applied art. With my background in embroidery, ‘stitch’ in the broadest sense will be used a making method.


Graduating in 2004 with a BA Hons Embroidery (MMU), I continued to develop my interest in the material culture of craft studying MA Designer Maker (UAL), which I completed in 2012. I am currently undertaking a programme of research in the area of Applied Art, Glass and Ceramics Recrafting waste glass from the National Glass Centre: A collaboration between makers and matter at National Glass Centre (UOS).

An engagement with materials is central to my practice which involves the transformation of everyday materials into sculptural objects, architectural interventions and installations. The work is formed out of a playful, intuitive collaboration between maker and matter and through this non-verbal dialogue or haptic logic, the performance potential of the material emerges.

The larger installations I create occupy space in a provisional way, as temporary reorganisations of matter in spaces rather than monumental statements. At the other extreme, I give attention to diminutive, seemingly non-precious waste material. Reusing materials destined for the landfill has become my own gentle activism and a way to acknowledge the value within all matter.