Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Art Meets Science Competition - Biocity, Nottingham.

Tile Series #2
Unfortunately, I can't enter this one... it's only open to students.  But, a few of you will know that I did once enter it, what seems like an age ago, when I was still at university - I entered the first ever year of the competition, and was selected as a winner.  Not only was my art work on display, I got lots of publicity, and of course, prize money  which bought me a digital SLR camera, which I love.  If you want to know more about the competition, follow this link: Competition Entry Form & Details

So, apart from the money, why enter when you're a hard working, already busy student with too many projects to do?

Well, winning the competition did far more for me than providing a new piece of kit and a free lunch.  Like many students (I suspect), in my second year I still had no idea where I was going; what I might want to do when I graduated.  The challenge of creating a piece of work that not only fit the theme of the competition but was relevant to its location, the exploration process and the final result clarified for me that site specific work, public art was where my passion lies and inspiration comes from, and the direction in which I should consider going. 

Tile Series #1 - close up the tiles that make up the winning design
Not only that, I was able to tie it in with the university projects I was doing at the time - I discovered new glazing materials, that I have used since - I developed mould making techniques which informed future work.  We had to produce a photobook - I was able to centre mine around the competition - fulfilling the brief and providing me with some great promotional material.  If you want to read more about the Biocity artwork, scroll down to below the images.

Detail of degree show work
In-situ at KHCTSC
As a result of entering the competition, and the realisation that working to commission or to a theme helps me to focus my ideas, I went on to produce a large scale, site specific piece for my final degree show work - that piece, shown on the right was installed at the local technology college earlier this year. Again, this work was not only inspired by it's location, I tied it in with the college's specialism of technology.

An Explanation of The Biocity Artwork

The theme for the year I entered was "Innovations in Healthcare & Bioscience".  Biocity is a science based hub in the heart of Nottingham, housed in the former Boots Laboratories on Pennyfoot Street.  My brother and his wife met there, when they both worked as research technicians.  I asked my sister-in-law about the various projects she'd worked on over the years, looking for a starting point.  She reminded me that Boots had discovered and developed Ibuprofen many decades ago.  I used the chemical symbols as inspiration for part of the design, along with other patterns that had been developed from scientific imagery.

I used the empirical method of research when I was developing my work.  I didn't know what the result was going to be, I just went ahead and made many samples, using variations in clay bodies, glazes, kilns - both electric and reduction firing, and textures.  I used those findings to create the final piece, nine tiles - 3 of each clay/glaze/firing, one in each pattern - all nine tiles different.  The tiles are all hand-pressed and cut, so each one is individual. 

For information about the Kirk Hallam School project - click here

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