25 April 2013

Two cultures: Artists and scientists inspire each other

Katie Paterson presents her work as part of the Wellcome Collection's Art in Global Health project

Fossil Necklace 2013 Carved rounded fossils, silk thread

Fossil Necklace 2013 Carved rounded fossils, silk thread [MJC]

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Artist Katie Paterson, as part of her residency at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, presents her new artwork at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge on 25 April 2013.

'Fossil Necklace', is made of 170 specially carved beads, with each bead representing a moment in time: threaded together they chart the evolution of life on earth. The oldest fossil is more than 3.5 billion years old.

Katie's residency is part of the Wellcome Collection's Art in Global Health project and is one of six artist residencies at Wellcome Trust funded centres throughout the world. This project aims to engage and inspire the curious public about the health research the Wellcome Trust funds in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK. This project aims to touch on social, political and cultural issues that surround global health.

At the outset of the project, Katie Paterson commented: "I'm very pleased to have begun as Artist in Residence at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. I am working with the Sanger Institute for one year, and will create artwork alongside my research process, which will be exhibited at Kettle's Yard Gallery, Cambridge in early 2013. I am undertaking research online, through journals, books, films, lectures, podcasts and most importantly through conversations with scientists and direct experience at Sanger, which I feel very privileged to be able to do.

"The artwork I will produce is open and this is very important to me; I always want my work to surprise, to be driven by curiosity and never predictive of the result. My approach to the residency is to immerse myself in very varied areas of research, in multiple ways and via different artistic methodologies."

" Working with Katie has been an enlightening discovery of the nuances between creativity in the arts and sciences. "

Dr Julia Willingale-Theune

The Sanger Institute Public Engagement teams have supported Katie's work during the residency - providing discussion, guidance and supporting information. They have mediated discussions between Katie and Institute researchers, a key step in the creative process and development of 'Fossil Necklace'.

"Katie's work is a perfect example of our ongoing programme with artists and other innovative people to develop new and exciting ways to explore our research in genomics through the eyes and the inventiveness of others," comments Dr Julia Willingale-Theune, Manager of the Public Engagement Programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "We will seek to expand this programme in the coming months.

"Working with Katie has been an enlightening discovery of the nuances between creativity in the arts and sciences."

"Fossil Necklace' is a string of worlds, with each bead modestly representing a major event in the evolution of life through a vast expanse of geological time. From the mono-cellular origins of life on earth to the shifting of the continents, the extinction of the Cretaceous period triggered by a falling meteorite, to the first flowering of flowers, it charts the development of our species and affirms our intimate connection to the evolution of those alongside us. Each fossil has been individually selected from all corners of the globe, and then carved into spherical beads in a secondary process of excavation," says Guy Haywood, Kettle's Yard.

The new artwork will be displayed in St. Peter's Church next to Kettle's Yard, from 26 April - 23 June 2013. Other pieces in the exhibition, displayed in the gallery approach the themes of time and scale in different ways. 'As the World Turns' is a record player moving imperceptibly slowly, in time with the rotation of the Earth. An ancient meteorite, fallen to earth and buried, is discovered and remade in 'Campo del Cielo, Field of Sky'. The meteorite has been cast, melted then re-cast into a new version of itself that visitors can touch.

"This has been a wonderful opportunity to immerse myself in the world of genomics," says Katie Paterson. "Speaking with the researchers at the Sanger Institute has allowed me to explore a variety of areas of science and has inspired the creation of the piece I am exhibiting today."

This exhibition is the culmination of Katie Paterson's residency at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge one of 6 international residencies which made up Wellcome Collection's Art in Global Health project.

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Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson's conceptual artworks make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. Since graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2007 she has gone on to exhibit internationally, from London to New York, Berlin to Seoul, and her works have been included in major exhibitions including the Tate Britain, the Kunsthalle Wien, and the MCA Sydney. Her artworks are represented in collections such as the Guggenheim New York and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

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Kettle's Yard

Opened in 1957 Kettle's Yard is a remarkable house and collection with a programme of modern and contemporary art exhibitions, educational activities and music. Kettle's Yard is part of the University of Cambridge.

Kettle's Yard receives regular support from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Higher Education Funding Council for England and Cambridge City Council.

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Wellcome Collection

Wellcome Collection, on London's Euston Road, is a free destination for the incurably curious devoted to exploring the links between life, medicine and art. Several galleries, a range of events and the unrivalled Wellcome Library root science in the broad context of health and wellbeing. Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. The Trust is independent of both political and commercial interests.

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The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease.

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The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.

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