Former Portlethen pupil’s art

Ellie Turner with her design
Ellie Turner with her design

A former Portlethen Academy pupil was inspired by her autistic brother to complete a project in her final year at an art university.

Ellie Turner (21) designed a range of textiles with tactile and interactive surfaces that aim to spark interesting sensory reactions for those with autism.

It was part of her final year at Aberdeen’s Gray’s School of Art.

Her interest in the subject was inspired by her brother Callum, who is autistic.

“Autism is a huge part of my family’s life and growing up with my brother really shaped the way in which I approach my creative processes,” Ellie explained.

She added: “Throughout my initial research, I referred to diaries and notebooks my mum kept during the time myself and my brothers were growing up.

“She wrote about different factors that affected the behaviour of individuals with autism and sensory stimulation was highlighted.

“This led me to focus on that topic as I developed my research.

“For people with autism, their senses can really be a gateway to experience and expression.”

The former Portlethen Academy pupil has worked closely with her brother as part of the project, recording a video in which they interact with one another and some of the materials she has created.

Ellie said her brother was “really excited about my project.

“It’s really lovely to involve him in the process of my work.”

She visited SensationALL in Westhills, which provides therapeutic activities and specialist support for individuals with a range of disabilities or multiple support needs, their families and associated professionals, as well as the sensory room at Inchgarth Community Centre while doing her research.

She said: “I developed my material choices from these visits, looking at the texture and weight of the fabrics within the sensory rooms.

“I have developed my printed outcomes into cushion-like structures that are designed to be playful, interactive pieces that encourage motor movement.

“Each structure is filled with a combination of materials that encourage sensory stimulation. For instance, I’ve used polystyrene packaging that makes a loud crackling noise when it’s squeezed and wadding that feels really soft and malleable.”

The work will be on display at the Art Degree Show.