Utilising Additive Engineering Development & Research: Jane Cook

Outline Of Artist Practice

Jane Cook's practice is based upon the belief that drawing is the basis of all art and visual thinking. Her large scale drawings explore organic form within the landscape, particularly concentrating upon gross globalisation, environmental change and the development of unstable areas of land. The aim of this report is to show the positive development of Cook's practice whist utilising an external department at Loughborough University.

Initial ideas and Ensuing Problems

The initial drawings Cook created concentrate on organic structure and shape within nature, this is achieved with research photos and direct observations. 

  A detailed image, depicting organic shape, with supports still intact. After manufacture supports are cut away. 

A detailed image, depicting organic shape, with supports still intact. After manufacture supports are cut away. 

In order to further her depth of understanding of organic structure and form Cook decided to expand her research from 2D source material to exploring 3D modelling programmes. The programme used for source material was MAYA. Whilst this programme allowed Cook to manipulate shapes and create detailed reference material for developing perspective within her work,  she realised that the various viewpoints of geometric shapes within MAYA - whilst excellent, didn’t provide a personal intricate knowledge of the structure that she wanted to draw.

  Preliminary shape created using MAYA

Preliminary shape created using MAYA

This problem developed the idea that if she had the organic shape to actually draw from, her drawings would develop a deeper understanding into form and structure. The ability to observe an object by holding, feeling and carefully looking is well documented by the famous sculptor Henry Moore. Cook realised if she could combine visual elements with sensory input then she could achieve a deeper development within her practice.

Solution and Development

By developing the excellent links within the engineering department Jane Cook was able to learn about the development and research of Additive Engineering. This is a system of 3D printing that uses detailed computer aided drawings to develop a 3D shape.


Upon visiting the Additive Engineering department Cook was able to observe objects that were of an organic form and shape. 

  Research being undertaken within the engineering department. Particular attention to the supports around the printed 3D object have been observed. 

Research being undertaken within the engineering department. Particular attention to the supports around the printed 3D object have been observed. 

This proved to be a pivotal point in her practice. She was able to draw from an engineered shape that provided all the qualities she was seeking. This allowed Cook to create work with multifaceted viewpoints of finely detailed organic shapes that would otherwise be impossible to source.

Further Development and Contextual Research

Whilst Jane Cook fully appreciates the development and exciting implications of Additive Engineering, access to the Engineering Department allowed deeper contextual awareness within her work. The ability to fully understand organic structure has developed her own research into an awareness of how biomimicry is being further advanced within contemporary society.

For example: the development of components within the aeronautical industry (the ability to combine strength and lightness) is due to a thorough and developing understanding of organic structure. This is also further developed within the study of homeostasis, an area that is being applied to architecture, enabling sustainable environments to be created within a society that is slowly becoming aware of environmental catastrophe.

Outcome and Evaluation

The ability to understand the process of Additive Engineering from drawing through to finished object allowed Jane Cook to concentrate on the actual process of printing and the final outcome.

The supports that hold the finished object were an area that she found fascinating. The uses of supports both ‘metaphorically and literally’ have enabled her drawings to develop. The actual act of drawing took a dynamic leap forward by merging new technology with traditional materials. A profound deeper understanding of the delicate balance of organic unity within landscape underpins her work. The supports of the engineered objects emphasised the root structure of plants. Roots create firm foundations, unstable expanses of land use support structures in earthquake zones or areas of flood. As a society in general external and internal supports are often overlooked. This aspect of ‘support’ created a new direction for Jane Cook's practice. 

  A detailed image, depicting organic shape, with supports still intact. After manufacture supports are cut away. 

A detailed image, depicting organic shape, with supports still intact. After manufacture supports are cut away. 

Conclusion and future progression of work

The utilisation of the engineering department allowed Cook the ability to develop not only technically, but on deeper contextual basis. Creating drawings that consider a much deeper insight into organic structure, this provided the ability to create visually strong drawings, which have powerful social and environmental implications.

Jane hopes in the future she can move her work a stage further by applying her own drawings into a system that would allow for a 3D structure to be created, enabling her drawings to have form, which in turn she could re-draw, creating a process of development and emphatic proof that drawing functions as the recognisable and stable aspect of a complex multipractice.