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Press release

  • 18 October 2004
  • Art meets science at new exhibition

    When artist Heather Barnett began working with a group of University of Sussex scientists last year she had little idea what would emerge.


    Now the fruits of her work can be seen at a Brighton exhibition. They include amusing elements such as a book of wallpaper designs based on microscopic nanofibres, a manual for fruitfly enthusiasts and a display of mathematical formulae scribbled on napkins and Post-It notes.


    Barnett worked with four research  groups at the University's School of Life Sciences in a new  collaboration, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) and Arts Council England, to see how art could offer insights into the world of science.


    The project was more fulfilling  than she could have anticipated.  "I've been working with very clever people who are doing interesting things - it really challenged my perception of scientists."


    Barnett immersed herself  in the laboratory processes of scientists studying protein engineering, cuttlefish behaviour, evolutionary history and fruitfly genetics to explore themes of design and transformation in biological systems.


    To convey her impression of what she found, the exhibition contains three films (of cuttlefish, fruitflies and nanofibres), as well as a multi-track sound installation featuring the voices of the scientists describing moments of excitement and frustration in their work.


    Dr Robert Whittle, project manager and geneticist, says the scientists were fascinated by how an artist would interpret their work. "There was a certain worry at sharing red hot results with an outsider before publishing them, but there was a real excitement when they were given the opportunity to talk about their work.


    "My feeling is that this exhibition has brought together science and art in a way that most people will find fun and interesting."


    Metamorphosis and Design: From nanofibres to cuttlefish display, is at the Friese Gallery, Brighton Media Centre, 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton, October 18-31, 1-5pm.  Entry is free.


    Notes for editors 

    For more information, contact Dr Robert Whittle on 078841 74254


    University of Sussex Press Office, Jacqui Bealing or Maggie Clune,,,  Tel: 01273 678888



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