Storytelling school

New exhibition to marry art and science through storytelling

Supported by SFI and UCD, STEP Through the Looking Glass will give audiences “a unique insight” into the lives of the people behind the research.

A unique Irish exhibition aims to bring together scientists and artists through storytelling.

STEP Through the Looking Glass: Told Stories of Experimental Processes will use personal and scientific objects belonging to different people to spark conversations.

It is the result of work by artist and tapestry weaver Lorna Donlon, scientists at University College Dublin (UCD) and the patient advocates who work with them.

The launch of the exhibition will take place at the Grennan Mill Craft School in Kilkenny tomorrow (August 6) as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival. He can be seen in other locations after that.

Donlon was a student at the craft school in 1984 and then taught weaving there for 12 years.

During the pandemic, she undertook an artistic residency at the UCD Conway Institute, having recently completed a university degree in cellular and molecular biology.

In the initial phase of Donlon’s residency, she mounted an installation at the entrance to the UCD Conway Institute called Cabinets of Everyday Curiosities.

It featured ordinary, everyday objects that spoke to the lives of people in Donlon’s life, placed without labels or explanations. These objects acted as storytelling devices.

The STEP exhibition is the result of this project. Donlon invited scientists from the biomedical research institute to view the cabinets, then set up their own everyday object in exchange for an object on display – until all the objects belonged to the researchers and represented their daily lives.

“It has been fascinating to work with Lorna on this project,” said Professor Helen Roche, director of the UCD Conway Institute and one of 12 scientists involved in the project.

“Scientists and artists are inherently curious by nature, but in very different ways. I began to look at the objects lying around my office and my laboratory in a whole new light.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see large format photographs of the 12 scientists and two patient advocates who participated. They will also be able to listen to conversations between Donlon, the scientists and patient advocates involved in the Patient Voice in Cancer Research initiative.

“The exhibition will give the public a unique insight into the lives of the people behind the research as well as the research itself,” said Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

“Projects like this help us provide important platforms and spaces for researchers and artists to come together, learn from each other, and create new ideas that can benefit society as a whole. »

The exhibit was funded by SFI through its Discover program and the UCD Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund.

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