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Artist-In-Residence: ‘Making Visible’ by Hannah Jane Walker

Funded by Liberty Property Trust and Countryside Properties, campus expansion developers.


Hannah Jane Walker’s virtual residency at CBC invited biomedical research employees to take part in writing workshops to explore their own work and personal motivations. Their creative writing was then translated into text-based artworks for public exhibition across the campus, to enable wider campus users to gain a small insight into the life of a researcher.

Making Visible enabled participants to connect with colleagues from different research organisation on Campus and creatively reflect on the joys, pressures, and surprises of working within this challenging 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 cross collaboration across campus, with the aim of promoting discovery and healthcare breakthroughs.

The Workshops


An artist-in-residence is about people spending time with each other. Through the workshops, a strong group cohesion developed. Participants explained that the workshops had proved positive for their wellbeing, by being able to connect with each other creatively. Hannah’s described their participation as wholehearted, brave, and inquisitive.

“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

The Participants


Participants represented a range of campus organisations and their divisions/departments:

  • Division of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Cambridge
  • CRUK Cambridge Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre
  • Department of Surgery, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Division of Cell Biology
  • Molecular Immunity Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • Department of Surgery, University of Cambridge
  • Department of Medical Genetics, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge

“After a lot of discussion, we landed resolutely on these three phrases because they moved us, brought about the most conversation and connected us.” Hannah Jane Walker


The Artwork


The group worked with Hannah to develop their conversations into key phrases. From initial long lists, they reflected on the qualities they wanted the artworks to have and to 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. The final phrases were chosen by Hannah and her project team and translated into engaging neon text artworks:


in the face of uncertainty
braver than you think you are
even when you don’t know how


Hannah then collaborated with Cambridge based visual artist Anna Brownstead to transform these phrases into engaging public artworks that users across the campus could enjoy. Anna has a strong practice in visual and public arts. Her expertise led to the artworks coming together as neon text for hanging in the windows of campus organisations. Each is about 1 metre in width enabling them to be seen from afar, and work individually and together as public art.

The Exhibition


The Making Visible artworks are currently touring around the campus to enable as many employees, patients and visitors to see them as possible:


Jun – Dec 2021: Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute – windows facing onto Puddicombe Way

Jan – May 2022: MRC LMB, Francis Crick Avenue – main entrance windows


CBC organisations are currently scheduling future venues for the artworks.


The Legacy


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.


*Photos of neon signs at night, credited to:

Nick Edwards