When you approach the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, it is hard to miss the large metal panels with artistic abstractions of the four scales of life: Molecular, Organellar, Cellular and Tissue. This piece, known as Scales of Life exemplifies scientific visualization and is a result of an art and science collaboration featuring artist Elaine Shemilt, scientist Mike Ferguson and architect Jo White. Thus, it is rather fitting that this piece greets visitors as they enter Scotland’s first art-science-research gallery, LifeSpace.
Curated by a team of researchers from the university’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and School of Life Sciences, this gallery features interdisciplinary work across the university by blending together art, curation, scientific research and public engagement. Since opening its doors in October 2014, there have been nine exhibitions showcasing diverse themes, ranging from the implications of human co-existence with microbial life to the ethics of using human tissue in art and science. Ultimately, this space aims to engage both artists and scientists in order to shed insight on art, design and life sciences research at the university.
In addition to art and science collaborations, the gallery offers a range of programs to engage the public through events such as artist talks, debates and school workshops. They work with organizations such as the Dundee Science Festival and Women in Science Festival to create programming for both the gallery and the city. In doing so, this unique space provides a way for staff, students and the general public to engage in science and understand the ongoing research in their community.
It is certainly impressive for a university to foster interdisciplinary collaborations through their own art and science gallery. The success of their exhibitions and ongoing partnerships are a testament to their dedication in growing the field of SciArt.
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