Making Visible, a new piece of public art for the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) by Hannah Jane Walker, has launched, inspired through working with CBC staff during the COVID pandemic.
Hannah Jane Walker’s virtual residency at CBC invited clinicians, researchers and academics to take part in creative writing workshops to explore their own work and personal motivations. These sessions have been translated into text-based public art for the campus, to provide an insight into the life of a researcher.
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. Together they created a universal message of the values and emotions shared by all campus users who each have their own relationship to improving human health and wellbeing. It is hoped that the process will ultimately lead to more collaboration across campus, with the aim of promoting discovery and healthcare breakthroughs.
Participants represented a wide range of campus organisations including CRUK Cambridge Institute, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, and the Department of Surgery, University of Cambridge.
The group worked with Hannah to develop their conversations into key phrases that resonate with campus colleagues, patients and visitors. With a broad demographic in mind, they chose a shortlist of phrases that met the qualities of hope, connection, brightening and questioning. Three final phrases translated into the engaging neon text artworks are:
in the face of uncertainty | braver than you think you are | even when you don’t know how
“There was a lot of conversation about the challenges and joys of their jobs, their connections or frustration at the lack of connections between organisations beyond sharing the output of their research. It revealed the reality of being a researcher, the bravery, the fear and the risk. I think a lot of the talk really was about resilience, vulnerability and hope.” Hannah Jane Walker
From July 2021 Making Visible will be exhibited across the campus as a travelling installation: in the foyers, windows and publicly accessible spaces of campus organisations for everyone to enjoy.
Following the tour, a final permanent location on campus will be selected for Making Visible by the CBC Public Art Steering Group. The artwork installation will be included in a planned CBC Public Art Trail for all to enjoy.
The CBC Artist in Residence Programme has been curated and managed by international cultural placemaking agency, Futurecity, who are also behind artist Ryan Gander’s visioning for The Green in the Gardens in 2019. The programme is led and funded by property developers Countryside Properties and Liberty Property Trust under the s106 agreement with Cambridge City Council to deliver public art across the CBC expansion land. Walker was selected by the CBC Public Art Steering Group, made up of campus stakeholders and external advisors.
“At a time of increased physical disjointedness, Making Visible is a powerful reminder of art’s ability to form human connections, enable expression and inspire collaboration. It is amazing to see these neon phrases hanging proudly in the CRUK Cambridge Institute for us all to enjoy – they are beautifully striking and thought-provoking – I can’t wait to see where they appear next! Congratulations to Hannah and all the researchers involved,” said Natalie Ellis, Head of Arts, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
“After the completion of Ryan Gander’s The Green and the Garden’s Liberty and Countryside are excited by the potential for this commission to build and nurture unexpected collaborations between the CBC research and healthcare community that will support innovation in science and health”, said Andrew Blevins, Managing Director, Liberty Property Trust.
“People need art now more than ever. Walker’s artist-in-residence has quietly and beautifully captured the hearts and minds of campus staff and created public art that speaks to us all in these challenging times. The artworks lift our spirits and help us remember that we are not alone, but wholly connected and supporting each other”, said Andy Robinson, Head of Strategy, Futurecity.