Reflection of artist Nwando Ebizie in a window
The Beekeepers Art Studios and Retreat

Neurodivergent led biophilic design – an evidence based spell

Artist Nwando Ebizie explores the transformative internal and external process she went through making Tadelakt ceramics during her retreat to Portugal last year.

Tadelakt

Tadelakt – go on – wrap your lips and mouth and tongue around that

Tadelakt

Taste it

Tadelakt is

Sensuality

It is Transformation

It is the story of humanity designing. Humanity connecting with the natural world and evolving alongside it.

But to come forward in time from evolutionary timescales whilst going back to the before – you know – before Covid…

I was on the edge; too much travel (do you remember those days?!),  too many meetings, too many applications (hmm not that much has changed), too much expectation, too much pressure (I’ve got to admit about ninety per cent of that is from me). I drove from Suffolk to West Yorkshire, tidied up my kitchen. Got in bed. Not slept. Got up, got on a flight and arrived in Portugal.

Reflection of artist Nwando Ebizie in a window

I lay my head on red earth and visit the pit. I got lost in a desert with no water and so I picked a desert fruit and ate it. Later I picked the tiny spines out of my hands.

I needed a few days to sit still and slowly bring myself back to myself.

This is how I make my life. How I remake the world – wrap it around me.

Life is too much up and down. Too much instability. Too much faster go faster go pussy cat go and not listening to my body’s need for stillness and earth.

So, I carve out these spaces for a return to something I don’t yet understand, but can see in its structures the elements I require:

  • Earth
    • Hands in wet earth
      • Wet earth dug deep – from the place where we dig deep
      • Transformation
        • Tactility
          • Slow work
            • Colour. And that type of colour – it’s womb, it is softness, it is deep inside. Up, inside.
            • Form, shape, curves, softness
            • Perception
  • Master / student relationship
  • Imbecilic Path
  • Biophilia
    • Contradiction
        • Space

Sunset in a large green field

Some days I followed the sun. Some days I followed big dogs.

  • The Spaces in between
    • The Natural history of the Self
      • Returning to a source
        • Sorting this from that – A Baba Yaga ritual (Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes)
          • The wisdom within traditional Methods and

The wisdom within global indigenous technologies, the spirit within these technologies. The myth that the history of technology begins and ends with white European processes.

The article details: “an invitation to know millennia-old societies thriving in symbiosis with nature thanks to local ingenuity, creativity, spirituality, and resourcefulness…”

It is important ecologically, culturally and politically that “contemporary design scholarship catch(es) up with their time-tested practices.”

I pull this apart to see that the threads make up a clearer tapestry than I might first assume. So effortlessly one can drop in, fall in, wrap it around oneself. Feel comforted in clarity.

I made a bowl.

A warm cocooning bowl inspired by the sinks in Turkish hammams.

The colour of my insides

The carbonisation process takes 2 weeks.

 

To make your Tadelakt bowl you can follow these instructions:

  1. Stop by a roadside terracotta shop and buy a bowl:
  2. Go to the master builder’s house. Eat Thai food and look through books about Tadelakt, Lime, Clay.
  3. These measurements:

Written and drawn measurements on paper

written measurements

4.Measure the material – 4kg per m2

5. Measure the Pigment – We used 0.25 of 1% = 4g red and 8g brown

This was too much. The first mixture was too deeply pigmented so we reduced the pigment to being a bit under 1g red and 4g brown

Tadelak mix in two jars one red and one brown

6.Mix it in a big bucket. Add 20% water to the material

Red mix and materials for Tadelek

7.Take the material in your trowel and begin to smooth over the bowl.

8.Take 2 days to slowly smooth the material over in thin layers. Layers over layers.

9.Do not overwork the material. But it must be smooth.

10. In between layers it dries. Then you add more wet material. Then it dries. And you polish it. You polish it with a stone. And eventually stone meets stone. And you feel it – you feel an extension of your somatosensation through the stone – you feel transformation from wet to hard, from mush to stone. Until one day, the stone meets stone and you have been part of a most wonderful alchemy.

Finished Tadelakt bowl

General wisdom

Soap. You use soap to make the water-resistant layer of the Stucco. It reacts with the tadelakt to make in essence, a layer of lime soap.

It will be one week before the material is ready and hard.

You can add wax after two weeks, if you want that high-shine look.

Building for the future will mean respecting the technologies of indigenous peoples.

I find that building outer worlds necessitates the building of the inner world.

This bowl is a beginning. I will go further on and further in. A soft analogue.

Into objects, sculptures, furniture that provide solace, biophilic inspiration, that open up new/old rituals.

In this bowl, I feel a truth. This world that they claim they build for us does not work for many of us. And the rest shuffle along, dull hope in their eyes. The environment we build around us was built on dehumanisation and continues to dehumanise.

The very fabric of the buildings, from plastic paints to plasters, leaks toxic chemicals into our homes and back into the environment. The toilets with their never-ending water flush and flush and flush into an assumed bottomless pit.

I sit on the hill and I watch the farmer tend his lawn. His green, green lawn amongst his acres of rocky, mossy fields.

We feel lost in our normal, watching the world slip away whilst we are gasping for air.

The big, grand public buildings, echo chambers all.

The public toilets have closed.

‘The healing power of a connection with nature was established by Roger Ulrich’s landmark study comparing recovery rates of patients with and without a view to nature.’

In this bowl I see the beginnings of a material connection with nature in my practice, of biomorphic forms of complexity and order, of refuge in natural analogous haptics.

I make this bowl and I cast an intention – Neurodivergent led biophilic design – an evidence-based spell.

finished Tadelakt ceramic bowl in a garden with the backdrop of the sunset sky