Art and University science unite for Ropetackle festival

Four leading academics from the University of Sussex will take to the stage with musicians, artists, actors and students to share the wonder of science as part of a special festival this month (October 19-30).

University Vice-Chancellor and gastroenterologist Michael Farthing, geneticist Alan Lehmann, health science expert Jackie Cassell and neuroscientist Anil Seth will explain their research to the public with help from artists inspired by aspects of their work at the Art of Life Science festival at the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham (16-30 October 2010).

The first festival was held last year and proved hugely popular with audiences, who learned what excites physicists, plant scientists and brain researchers with the help of creative interpretations from local artists, performers and schoolchildren.

The series will bring together each scientist with an arts "partner", with the aim of illustrating and interpreting the science.

The University talks are as follows: 

  • Michael Farthing and Shoreham Academy Gut Microbes and Man will take the audience on an exploration of the human gut complete with images of its microscopic inhabitants, artwork and sound effects. Professor Farthing is a world-renowned gastroenterologist, whose field of research is the human digestive system. His work has included investigation into intestinal diseases in the Third World, and the link between the digestive disorders and the brain. He will be joined by his brother, the painter Stephen Farthing RA, who will give an artistic commentary. Art students from Shoreham Academy are working on a multimedia backdrop for the talk. Tuesday 19th October at 7.30pm
  • Alan Lehmann and Malcolm Buchanan-Dick In DNA - Damage, Repair and Protection, Professor Alan Lehmann is one of the UK's leading researchers into the human genome and DNA damage, one of the underlying causes of cancer. In his talk Professor Lehmann will unravel the mysteries of the genome, the 'blue print' of humanity. The Ropetackle will be hosting an exhibition of work by local artists on the theme of "The Human Genome" for the duration of the Festival, while installation and projection artist Malcolm Buchanan-Dick will illustrate Professor Lehmann's subject. Thursday 21st October at 8pm
  • Anil Seth, Richard Durrant and Kate Genevieve: Did you know that Neuroscience blossomed as a scientific discipline around the time of Spanish classical guitar's golden era? Neuroscience and the Guitar sees Dr Anil Seth, Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex, team up with guitar virtuoso Richard Durrant , animator Kate Genevieve and projection and installation artist, Malcolm Buchanan-Dick for a multimedia exploration of one of the great quests of science - understanding the physical basis of human consciousness. Includes Kate's animations of brain waves and music by Richard Durrant.
    Friday 22nd October at 8pm.
  • Jackie Cassell and Northbrook College In Who's Looking at Your Medical Records? Professor Jackie Cassell, an expert in the use of information technology in the development of healthcare, explains why personal health records are vital in building a picture of health in modern Britain. Students from Northbrook College will provide their own dramatic interpretation of the points Professor Cassell raises in her talk. Wednesday 27th October at 8pm

 "The Art of Life Science" is to be held at the Ropetackle Centre during the fortnight starting 16 October.

Notes for editors


"The Art of Life Science" is at the Ropetackle Centre during the fortnight 16-30 October 2010.

For full details of the Ropetackle Art of Life Science Festival, visit or call 01273 464440. Tickets cost £6, except for Anil Seth's talk, which is £8.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Friday, 15 October 2010