Accepted Paper:

Craft, recovery and embodied cognition  


Stephanie Bunn (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores how handwork provides essential practical accompaniments to healing and cognition, assisting recovery for people with brain injury and trauma, enhancing communication for people living with dementia, and providing important learning contexts for mathematical and design thinking.

Paper long abstract:

For 10 years, the Woven Communities project,, has been exploring the relationship between basket-work, memory, embodied cognition and rehabilitation, examining this through practical basketry, rope-work, weaving and plaiting among Scottish basket-makers and their communities.

This paper explores how skilled practice and handwork such as basketry can provide essential practical accompaniments to healing, cognition and creative thought, improving communication through hand memory work for people living with dementia, assisting in recovery for people with brain injury and trauma, and providing important creative accompaniments to new understandings for children in education, mathematicians and design thinkers.

That these outcomes are united through specific hand-skilled activities, effected through the same acts of making, reveals the significance of the integration of the sensory and motor systems and coordination skills that forms of handwork such a basketry and rope-making provide: using bi-manual, bi-lateral work, and providing a rich social context for recovery, constructive, creative kinds of thinking, and memory work.

Drawing on field research in the Northern and Western Isles, our concern is that hand-work is so important for cognition that we would propose it is important to challenge the view that many hand-skills are no longer relevant, whether in occupational therapy, schooling or work in care-homes. In contrast, developments in the digitization and automation of education, health-work, and care-work require a renewed consideration of craft's value as a practical element in recovery, memory, as well as providing an important contribution to a multi-textured rich education.

Panel P020
Making, Materials and Recovery: Perspectives "from the inside"