Matter Of Being

Mia Mai Symonds

Within my practice I aim to push the boundaries of how and where woven textiles can be seen and understood with a commitment to exploring and interrogating its past, present, and future societal values. Whilst engaging with social, spatial and bodily theories and practices, I want to demonstrate what woven textiles has the power to hold and the ways in which it shapes how we live.

Matter of Being is a project concerned with the emotional properties of our everyday textiles and investigating cloth at the intersection between body and lived experiences.

Cloth is a socially, politically, economically, and culturally loaded material. From the first point of production through to its varying and versatile everyday use, it is a material entrenched in both possibilities and problems, with a vast history and an adapting future. It is a material caught in a state of tension – between its undeniable power to both maintain and modify how we live, its ubiquitous and arguably overlooked role in our everyday lives, and its periodic and problematic position within social and environmental concern. 

Tim Ingold: “Human life is lived in this tension between what we have prepared, what we have mastered, and the unknown – the eventualities of things that haven’t yet happened and not knowing where they are going to go” –  (difference between imagination and perception). 

When generating these drawings, I feel this tension between perception and imagination. Whilst immersing myself within a material so familiar, so universally understood, produced and governed by human need or desire, I allow my body to follow its lead. Yet within this act, we are in a constant state of collaboration. Each mark made is determined by the cloth’s response to my body but produced by my perception of its movement and material language.


We are embedded in a material world and both body and cloth are forms of matter susceptible to and in a state of perpetual change.

When I trace and mark the lines of movement on cloth, the places in which it has responded to my body, where it performs to its material language of creasing, folding, fraying, or gathering, I begin to see the cloth in a new way. I begin to see its material language come to life. By responding to the material, I can better understand how my body has affected its condition and how in return, its materiality effects my state of being.

The emotional properties of woven textiles I am interested in centre around topics of memory, personal and social material value and the humanness that is instilled in the very nature of how cloth performs and acts in the world.

Cloth is receptive. It carries fragments of us, of our history, and in one way or another it informs how we live in the present. 
It is a material that can be understood as a ‘silent witness to the routines of our everyday lives’; a material that takes on all that we do and all that we feel.