Artist-in-residence, Hannah Jane Walker, has run virtual workshops with staff at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) to create ‘Making Visible’, a public artwork now on display at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC LMB).
Hannah’s recent piece ‘Making Visible’ is currently touring locations on the campus and has just begun its occupancy at the MRC LMB after six months at the CRUK Cambridge Institute. Hannah is a writer from Saffron Walden and Cambridge and her work involves using poetry as a means of communicating. Hannah is an Associate Artist for the Cambridge Junction and National Centre for Writing in 2019.
For her residency at the CBC, Hannah invited contributors to explore their own work across fields of science and personal motivations though virtual creative writing workshops. A broad range of contributors across a wide demographic responded, including members of the MRC LMB.
The group worked with Hannah to develop their conversations into key phrases that resonate with campus colleagues, patients and visitors. To transform the phrases into artworks, Hannah commissioned and collaborated with Cambridge based visual artist Anna Brownsted. After shortlisting phrases that met the qualities of hope, connection, brightening and questioning, the group chose the following final three phrases to be translated into the neon text artworks:
in the face of uncertainty | braver than you think you are | even when you don’t know how
‘Making Visible’ enabled participants to connect with colleagues from different research organisations on the campus and creatively reflect on the joys, pressures and surprises of working within this sector. MRC LMB contributors shared their reflections on taking part in the residency:
“Science is often thought of as clinical and objective but we discussed how science involves human beings. Therefore, it takes imagination, inspiration and creativity to do science.”
“I was motivated to take part by the idea of combining this creative approach of writing with an honest discussion with other scientists.”
‘Making Visible’ allowed colleagues to connect with each other and explore their scientific work in new, creative ways. In sharing the experience of contributing to ‘Making Visible’, members of the CBC campus could celebrate the moments in their jobs that are joyous, as contributors added that medical care and research can so often be a high-pressure and challenging sector of work.
“I enjoyed the process of creating inspiring and positive messages not just for scientists but for everyone because I think it made us all feel quite connected.”
“The hope is that anyone walking past could find something in themselves to relate to.”
Involving people in projects like the artist-in-residence highlights the collaboration possible here at the CBC campus. As one participant summed up, by displaying the various ways in which work on campus aims to promote discovery and healthcare breakthroughs, “understanding how science works will help you even if you’re not a scientist.”