01.07.19 – 01.02.20

Fellowship on Future Materials: Collaborating with Nature

Yasmine Ostendorf, het Hoofd van het Lab voor Natuuronderzoek aan de Van Eyck heeft in samenwerking met de Master 'Materials Futures' aan Central St Martins in Londen een fellowship opgericht om een Future Materials Library op te zetten; een database van niet-giftige, afbreekbare, natuurlijke en duurzame alternatieve materialen voor kunstenaars en ontwerpers. Kieren Jones, Hoofd van de opleiding Materials Futures, zal de Van Eyck voor zes maanden als 'Visiting research Fellow' bezoeken om deze Future Materials Library op te zetten. 

De kennis, materialen, processen en het onderzoek wat gedurende deze maanden opgebouwd zal worden, zal geimplementeerd worden door middel van workshops, interventies in de Labs, site-visits en lezingen. 

Het doel van deze samenwerking is om de krachten te bundelen en de transitie richting duurzaamheid en klimaatneutraliteit te versnellen door kennisuitwisseling. Dit is zowel van belang voor de persoonlijke gezondheid van de kunstenaar, alsmede voor de natuur en de grondstoffen die we gebruiken bij de totstandkoming van materialen voor kunstenaars. 


De Fellowship bestaat uit een periode van 6 maanden van onderzoek aan de Van Eyck, gecombineerd met een serie workshops die wordt ontworpen speciaal voor de kunstenaars aan de Van Eyck, en die later zal worden gegeven aan de studenten aan de MA opleiding Material Futures. De opgebouwde kennis zal worden geimplementeerd in het curriculum ven verdere ontwikkeling van de Master en zal de Labs aan de van Eyck ondersteunen. 

Waar mogelijk zal de staf van de opleiding van Central St Martins, de studenten, allumni, Van Eyck kunstenaars, van Eyck allumni en Van Eyck staf worden betrokken in de ontwikkeling van de Future Materials Library en wij zetten in op een lange termijn samenwerking tussen beide organisaties op dit onderwerp. 

De Future Materials Library wordt mede mogelijk gemaakt door een subsidie van het Bank Giro Loterij Fonds





Van Eyck Locations: Printing and Publishing Lab, Garden, Greenhouse

Inks, dyes, paints and colorants.

Material Context:

The discovery of Mauveine (the world’s first synthetic dye) in 1856 marked a historical change in the way that humans develop and consume colour. Previous to Mauveine, all dyes and pigments were extracted from our natural surroundings making them more precious and often harder to find. The advent of synthetic dyes allowed us to explore a plethora of (until then) unavailable colours and cater to the ever growing demands of a fast-growing population.

However, the en-masse use of synthetic dyes within various industries has proven to have a detrimental impact not only on the environment but also on human beings. Today these dyes require the use of strong acids, heavy metals, alkalis, solvents, high temperatures, raw materials and high energy costs to be produced. Additionally, their disposal in rivers and the toxic fumes they emit when being processed contribute immensely to the contamination of our environment, the de-stabilising of natural ecosystems and the poor health condition of factory workers. Synthetic dyes and pigments have long been identified as some of the most detrimental materials on the planet and it is widely accepted by institutions such as the UN that if we are to have any chance of stabilizing our planet for further generations, then these industries must be addressed.


To explore how we can achieve more sustainable pigments by harnessing the potential of living materials, systems and processes.

Workshop Proposal:

To identify, cultivate and produce the necessary plants, materials, knowledge, techniques and equipment to produce more sustainable alternatives to pigments widely used in the creative industries.

Keywords: Indigo and woad, naturally occurring inks, food waste, earth-paints, natural-dyes, ancient pigments, synthetic biology, fermentation, silk-screening.



Van Eyck Locations: Wood Lab, Printing and Publishing Lab, Brightlands

Glues, gums, adhesives, varnishes and polymers

Material Context:

Plant resins are referred to as the viscous organic substance exuded by a variety of trees and plants, historically used as varnishes, adhesives, food glazing and incense. Today we know that the first use of naturally occurring resins dates back to the Stone Age where they were employed as adhesives for hafting stone tools.

However, the qualities of these natural resins have been mimicked and exceeded by the development of synthetic resins, which are now used as the base of plastics, adhesives, varnishes, composites and other products. Despite their use in a large amount of industries, these resins have proven to be greatly problematic due to their dependency on fossil fuels for production, their impact on the environment when being disposed of and their hazardous effect on our health.


To identify naturally occurring resins and polymers that can become viable alternatives to the resins that have a detrimental environmental impact.

Workshop Proposal:

To curate a material library of naturally occurring resins that could provide creative alternatives to synthetic resins. This could include identifying and planting plant species that enable the cultivation of such resins, as well as producing the necessary equipment and knowledge in which to harvest and process it.


Bio-kintsugi, bio-fabrication, propolis, plant gums, tree-tapping, botany, biomimicry, bitumen, bio-plastic, tar, sap & cellulose.



Location: Metal Lab, Garden, ENCI, Ceramic workshop

Earth, glass, metals and crystals.

Material Context:

Humans have mined materials for thousands of years, however, from the open pit mines that have decimated biodiversity and destroyed the habitats for animals and plants for thousands of years to come, to the abandoned pits and quarries of previous generations that leach toxic chemicals into our waterways and habitats, mining is widely regarded as having environmental effects on a magnitude and scale that is not often seen by a single industrial process. By identifying methods and techniques that could reduce or let us reuse precious metals and minerals it is hoped that we could significantly improve energy use, restore biodiversity and significantly replenish the natural environment around us.


To establish more sustainable practices of working and harvesting with Minerals and Ores.

Workshop Proposal:

To develop and build a sustainable metal foundry where aluminium can be recycled, smelted and cast.

To explore how different crystals and glass can be created more sustainably with the intention of identifying more ethical alternatives to current gemstones and minerals.


Artificial pearls, aluminium foundry, locally-sourced clay, mine shaft, bio-gemology, bio-polymers



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