Brief Encounters art-science exhibition

I’ve created some new science-inspired work for a small group exhibition which will be opening on Friday 9th March at Newarke Houses Museum, Leicester. This is part of the University of Leicester’s British Science Week celebrations. Find out more about the project and exhibition here. The exhibition continues until 31st March 2018. Some of the Petri Dish Project will also be shown in the exhibition.

My work is often around making ideas and concepts into visual form through textile and mixed media. My first career was working in museums, and this comes through now in my choice of exploring themes of memory, history and personal stories, usually taking historic objects or family history as my source. I was intrigued by the idea of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes having a role to play in ageing. This ties in with my previous work on genetics and other work around grieving, length of time expressed through linear pieces and of capturing ephemeral moments permanent through creating artworks.

Visiting Dr Nicola Royle and talking through the work she does sparked lots of ideas of how I might develop new work around length, ageing and repair. I wanted to explore some of the words and ideas which are used in genetics research and their resonance in the world outside the lab.

DNA is often referred to as strands, like hair or threads. I chose to work with this concept to create a new piece using long lengths of fine wool thread grouped and bound at intervals. Thinking about telomeres, the ends of chromosomes, gave me the inspiration to work with the ends of the thread, in this case knotted together in small groups.

I was also intrigued by the role telomeres play in DNA repair and chose to represent this through a textile repair. The microscopic imagery of chromosomes uses a bright pink fluorescence to highlight telomeres so I chose a similarly-coloured darning thread and used to repair a silk handkerchief.

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Work on paper – new exhibitions

This week I’ve installed and launched the exhibition of our joint McFarland & Singer artist residency in the Genetics Department of the University of Leicester. The work on show is very different from my usual work and includes work in glass and on paper as well as the amazing collaborative petri dish project.
My own work for this exhibition includes new work on paper including prints and drawings including pieces inspired by our research in the university herbarium combined with drypoint printing. I have also used scientific equipment to make textured patterned pieces. The exhibition also includes collaborative pieces Gillian and I have made together combining print, puncturing and stitch. The exhibition is now open daily 7am – 10pm until 22nd December and then again 2nd – 12th January at the Charles Wilson Building (Foyer) at Leicester University and is free to enter. Works in the exhibition will be listed for sale later in the year. A catalogue is available for £3 (+p&p) on request.

 

 

 

I also have other print-based work on show in Leicester Society of Artists exhibition at New Walk Museum from 17th November t0 16th December. These new pieces are created using patchwork, print and stitch. These pieces are part of a new ongoing series of work exploring textile processes and the stages in production of stitched work. These pieces were included in my recent Fragments exhibition.

Genetics Residency exhibitions

This year I have been artist in residence at Leicester University Department of Genetics alongside Gillian McFarland. Our residency showcase exhibition takes place at Leicester University November – January and includes our sculptural glass work created in collaboration with the university’s scientific glassblower Gayle Price, works on paper, photography and the Petri dish project.

The exhibition preview takes place on Friday 10th November 5-7pm and all are welcome. The show continues until 11th January but is closed 22nd Dec – 1st January.

We are also showing a collection of glass pieces at the Berlin Science Festival in “Appealing to the Populous”, the international art/science exhibition for Evolutionary Biology.

 

In January 2018 we will be showing an expanded version of our Leicester exhibition, including pieces from Berlin and other new work at 44AD Gallery in Bath. We won the exhibition opportunity in Bath Open Arts competition earlier in 2017.

 

Exploring DNA – Artist in Residence

Gillian and I spent our first full day at work as Artists in Residence at Leicester University Department of Genetics this week spending time observing in labs and extracting the DNA from a banana preparation to testing our own DNA later this week. For the next few weeks were are absorbing, observing, investigating, learning and getting to know the department as well as planning all the other parts of our project including schools project and exhibition.

For me it is a visual and intellectual feast, I’m finding the details of the labs fascinating and so completely new it is somewhat mind-blowing. The joy of this research stage is there’s no pressure to decide what the finished work might be and it’s great to bounce ideas around with both academic staff and of course with Gillian as we begin to scope out how we are going to approach our creative work.

 

I’m working on a new sketchbook with no fixed aim or direction yet which is very liberating. I am learning – fast- about the very basics of DNA and genetics, starting from knowing pretty much nothing, having not studied any science for 25 years! I’m overwhelmed by the generosity and support from the academic staff already and the enthusiasm shown for what must seem a pretty strange project to them.

 

Artist in Residence at Leicester University

I’m excited to be starting a new residency alongside artist colleague Gillian McFarland at Leicester University Department of Genetics this month.

Ruth Singer / Gillian McFarlandWe’ve been granted funds from Arts Council England to support a research project working with academics working on DNA and exploring new work and public engagement. We will be working in the labs with university staff & students and bringing in secondary schools to work with us later in the year. There will also be an exhibition, a touring display, a film and a publication about the project over the summer and autumn, as well as events and blog posts. We hope to extend the project much further in 2018 and beyond too.

I’m on a crash course of learning about DNA, finding my way around the departmental corridors and the inner workings of an academic institution which is all incredibly exciting!