Art Meets Science at Manchester Science Festival

Amy Hawthorne

by Amy Hawthorne

12th September 2014

The Manchester Science Festival is an ongoing event taking place across various parts of the Manchester area, which aims to deliver a range of workshops and performances to allow visitors to enjoy science in ways they never have before.

Manchester Science Festival is produced by MOSI. As we are a Corporate Member of the Science Museum, ReAgent regularly gets invited to some of the exciting events that go on there and was recently invited to attend the VIP launch of the Collider Exhibition.

Manchester Science Festival is launching a range of events this year under the umbrella topic of ‘Art Meets Science’. These events will explore the boundary between art and science through the launch of exhibitions, discussions and demonstrations.

It seems to be becoming increasingly popular for artists to incorporate science into their work, and we have already written a blog about the beautiful pieces of artwork that have been created thanks to chemical reactions.

We have looked further into three of the upcoming events at Manchester Science Festival that intrigued us because they demonstrate so well how science can overlap with art to create futuristic and unique exhibitions.


3D printed replica of Van Gogh’s ear by Diemut Strebe

3D: Printing the Future

3D: Printing the Future is a free exhibition that will be showcased between 23rd October and 2nd November 2014 in MOSI Manchester.

3D printers can now turn computer data into physical objects, and this exhibition gives you a glimpse into the future possibilities of 3D printing – such as how scientists are trying to make 3D printed organs a reality, which could hugely change the future of medicine.

It’s currently already possible for body parts to be replicated using a 3D printer, and the notion of “Science meets Art” was taken one step further when an artist created a living replica of Van Gogh’s ear.

The artist, Diemut Strebe, calls the project ‘Sugababe’ and achieved the result thanks to the donation of DNA from a living descendant of Van Gogh. The 3D printed ear is identical in shape to that of the ear that was sliced off by Van Gogh himself, in what is thought to be a psychotic episode.

The ear is on display at ZKM Karlsruhe Museum in Germany and visitors are invited to speak into the ear via a microphone system. Linguist and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky was the first person to speak into the ear.

The Van Gogh ear replica was grown from tissue engineered cartilage, and Diemut Strebe often incorporates biological material into her work. She’s become increasingly interested in the crossover between science and art.

Many thanks to Diemut for kindly sending the images of ‘Sugababe’ over to ReAgent, and for letting us know how leaving her Italy “paradise” to work in America has presented such big cultural changes for her! We look forward to more original work from Diemut showcasing the crossover between science and art.

dress of glass and flame- image courtesy of UAL Research

Dress of Glass and Flame- image courtesy of UAL Research

Dress of Glass and Flame

The Dress of Glass and Flame can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery on Monday 27th October 2014.

Helen Storey MBE is the designer that captured the alchemic process by creating a life-sized dress made entirely from transparent glass, which has a flame that you can see burning at the heart.

The dress was first shown at Venice Biennale in 2013 and received support from the Royal Society of Chemistry, University of Sheffield and the London College of Fashion.

At ReAgent, we usually opt for glass ampoules for our Ampoule Filling service. We use an open flame to hermetically seal the ampoules, but our glass option can only withstand non-flammable liquids. The way Helen Storey has peacefully combined glass with fire is remarkable.

The flame of the dress is held inside a glass chalice, so the reaction from the flame causes the chalice to turn black, ensuring that the dress stays pristine.

Helen said of the project;

“Entering this historic foundry, where the furnaces burned, and men, who have been making glass this way for centuries, toil with abject skill; I fell in love with the place and the art – that we can’t settle on whether glass is a liquid, or a solid, makes the mystery of the material unendingly mesmerising for the creative mind – working in the space, on a cold winters day, moving past the sequence of open and roaring fires, is like having your soul repeatedly kissed”.

“…that we can’t settle on whether glass is a liquid, or a solid, makes the mystery of the material unendingly mesmerising for the creative mind”

Helen Storey



The Look200 paintings aim to increase awareness of Manchester’s contribution to visual research

The Look200 Project is another we heard about through Manchester Science Festival. This free exhibition runs from 23rd October – 2nd November 2014 and is based at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

The location has significance to the project, as artist Lucy Burscough has been creating pop-up painting studios around the hospital. The paintings are a way to illustrate 200 years of research into vision, that has led to life-changing developments.

The Look200 paintings aim to increase awareness of Manchester’s impressive contribution to visual research, and thus are carried out in the public areas of the hospital, so are available for patients and visitors to view.

More specifically, the paintings act as visual representations to describe the research of John Dalton and Professor Robert Lucas, of Manchester University’s Faculty of Life Sciences. The research of Dalton and Lucas set out to describe the colour ranges seen by those who suffer from different types of colour blindness.

Anyone interested in the creative overlap between science and art is encouraged to have a look at the Manchester Science Festival website for the other exhibitions on offer.


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