It seems unbelievable that we are already headed into August. But here we are, already five months into lockdown…
When SMQB first launched our Artist-in-Residence programme, we could have never envisioned the world we’d now be living in and to some extent this new reality must itself be shaping the collaborations and the nature of the artistic work being produced. How could it not? For a start, some of our artists have been without access to their studio spaces, requiring them to skilfully adapt to working in their home environments.
For others, the spotlight on the NHS has prompted a period of self-reflection regarding their own interactions with healthcare services and personal experiences of illness or caring for others. This isn’t unique to our artists or researchers, of course. I think we have all in some way reflected on these themes. The SMQB aims to transform lives through quantitative biomedical and clinical research. Each of our incubator research projects focuses on a healthcare condition(s) and perhaps the sense of wanting to do justice to those professionally dealing with or personally afflicted by a condition is all the more heightened now. In particular, two of our artists have lived experience of the conditions under investigation by the researchers they are collaborating with. This naturally makes these projects more personal.
One of our goals was to host an exhibition of the combined artists’ works in October and this was already pretty much in place before lockdown began. Given the uncertainty surrounding just about everything right now this plan now seems rather too hopeful and I’ve been discussing options with our artist cohort. Even if we could physically host an exhibition this year, would people feel safe and secure enough to come visit it? Undoubtedly many cultural venues and arts organizations are troubleshooting these same scenarios on an even more intensified scale. It must be an incredibly challenging time for this sector – however, given their creative capacity, this community is perhaps at an advantage in dreaming up innovative solutions!
Whatever happens we will be aiming to share our progress and the collaborations with you. At the moment our intention is to exhibit the works together early next year, when safe to do so. However, we are thinking through plans for online activities later this year to bring our artists and researchers together alongside a public audience within a virtual space. To this end it would be really good to know what type of activities people would find valuable. Certainly, we hope to be able to showcase progress of the artworks themselves, but we hope that people will also be interested in hearing about the collaboration process itself – how the research is informing the art and vice versa. I’m currently on a bit of a reconnaissance mission to see what others are doing in this space, so please do get in touch if you see any innovative and effective examples of scientist-artist collaborations in the online world. Take good care of yourself and I hope you enjoy reading our latest artist update on the SMQB page (scroll down). Sneak peek of some of the progress in the images below!
With very best wishes,
Caroline Gillett, Community & Public Engagement Manager
Artist-in Residence Programme Lead