Everything that goes into your life is important – what you eat, where you grow up, who your friends are, your education and all the tiny details. These threads of our lives intertwine and lead to different outcomes for health and ageing. Weave your own threads into the growing sculpture and untangle the data of people’s lives to understand more about living a long, happy and healthy life.

Tangle is a participatory textile sculpture visualising lifecourse data. The project was developed by Einstein’s Garden in collaboration with scientists from UCL.

People were invited to answer questions about their lives, such as ‘How often do you do something that you know is bad for your health?’ and ‘How in control of your life do you feel?’. Their answers led them to take varying amounts of different coloured yarn which they used to create their lifecourse thread.

Further details about events and experiences from a person’s life could be shared by writing labels that were attached to the thread.

As they made their lifecourse threads, participants chatted to researchers who work on understanding the factors that influence lifelong health and ageing, using data from the National Survey of Health and Development, the first British birth cohort study.

It was really interesting – the studies they were telling us about, where they’ve looked at people’s birth onwards to try and predict behaviour and whether it influences how you look after yourself.

– Tangle audience member, Green Man 2017

Their final lifecourse thread was woven into the sculpture. People chose the point at which to add their thread by deciding on the factor that had the most impact on their quality of life: Health, Beauty, Spirituality, Wealth, Play, People, Music or Food.

Some people have been really touched by it, I saw a women with tears in her eyes when I was telling her about my research and it was so important to me to know that it matters.

– UCL researcher, Green Man 2017

Tangle was supported by Wellcome as part of a three-year award experimenting with new approaches to creative science engagement. It was first presented in Einstein’s Garden at Green Man 2017.

Tangle was produced by Einstein’s Garden in collaboration with UCL scientists and textile artist Rachael Pilston.