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Art project for science centre awarded £30,000 grant

Press release issued: 24 July 2003

An innovative partnership between art and science at the University of Bristol has been given a £30,000 boost by Arts Council England.

An innovative partnership between art and science at the University of Bristol has been given a £30,000 boost by Arts Council England.

The grant will allow a remarkable art installation to be integrated into the Dorothy Hodgkin Building, the University’s new centre for medical research, located in one of Bristol’s most prominent city-centre locations.

Five large, arched windows on the building’s Marlborough Street frontage will carry powerful and changing images created through sophisticated technology that blends reality with illusion.

The windows will incorporate light emitting boxes, made of a transparent film material called Duraclear, into which stylised images of interior and exterior views of the building have been embedded. Pictures stored on DVDs will be projected from inside the building onto the light boxes at peak times of the day.

These pictures will draw inspiration from fundamental ideas in bioscience, including the project to map the human genome, the structure of DNA, and apoptosis (the process by which cells can trigger their own death). They will interact with the images on the Duraclear film and with the reality of life on the street and inside the building.

The mix of projected, shadowy figures moving through illusory spaces and the half-glimpsed shapes of real people as they go about their business is expected to be particularly colourful and striking at night. However the light box technology should also ensure bright images in the five windows even in the brightest of sunlight.

A sixth ‘window’ will be located in the building’s entrance lobby as a free-standing structure.

The windows are the brainchild of Portsmouth-based artists Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer who were selected following a national competition that drew nine serious submissions.

Dr Colin Dayan of the University’s Division of Medicine said: “We are very excited about this grant and believe we must be one of the few science departments in the country with a major Arts Council grant.

“We are now looking forward to the creation of the artwork, and the effect it will have on the scientists working in the building and members of the public who pass by.”

The project is also supported by a £50,000 Principal Institutional Science and Art Grant from The Wellcome Trust, the most prestigious such grant offered by the Wellcome Trust.

The Dorothy Hodgkin Building, named after the University of Bristol’s Nobel Prize-winning fifth Chancellor, is under construction in Marlborough Street and will open in the autumn of 2003. The £18 million project, funded jointly by the University and The Wellcome Trust, will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the University’s Research Centre for Neuroendocrinology. The Centre is internationally renowned, but its scientists are currently working in cramped conditions and are scattered across a number of sites that offer no scope for expansion.

The focus of the scientists’ work is the way in which the brain controls the body in times of stress and disease. Their research is aimed at providing radical new approaches to the treatment of stress-related disorders, hormonal and psychiatric disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Arts Council England is the national development agency for the arts in England, distributing public money from Government and the National Lottery. Between 2003 and 2006 it will invest £2 billion of public funds in the arts in England, including funding from the National Lottery.

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