On Friday, Bristol harbourside was taken over by researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, keen to show the public what they get up to. The night, known as Bristol Bright Night, was one of a whole host of events run in 24 countries funded by the EU Commission to engage citizens in celebrating the latest and most stimulating research. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to display some of my Cell Paintings alongside the hands-on science activities.
The pictures were hung in a flurry of activity the night before the event.
I think the night itself went well. I didn’t manage to discuss my pictures with anyone except with people I already knew, probably because my work was hung among many interactive science exhibits (including lasers!). I hope some people stopped, looked and thought about my paintings.
The most important outcome of the evening for me was simply having my work displayed in a public space. A couple of days before Bristol Bright Night I sent an email around all the people in the building I work in to announce that I would be exhibiting my artwork. Comparatively few people in the building had known that I am an artist before the email, and to many it seems to have come as quite a surprise. On passing colleagues in the corridor, instead of a conversation about mycoplasma or automated imaging, I now get asked whether I regret embarking on a career in science. On rushing to my tissue culture room to finish an experiment I get complemented on the design of my website and told that I should be accepting commissions. It all feels very strange.
The paintings will now move to the School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, where they will be displayed in the Dorothy Hodgkin Building, level 7 of the Bristol Royal Infirmary and at Southmead Hospital.