Royal Institution to exhibit Research as Art winners

Seven stunning images, and the fascinating stories behind them – such as a dream about getting the blame unfairly, and how to tell which fish are the most devious – are to go on show at the Royal Institution, in an exhibition of entries for the Research as Art competition, run for the past six years at Swansea University.

The exhibits will be on show to the public at the Royal Institution’s historic building in Mayfair from Monday 3 September for around 4 months.  

300 x 93The exhibition will include the overall winner,Crab blood and collaborations”, a microscope image of crab blood, which shows what the researchers describe as “the beauty of the crystalline blood cells and jewel-like parasites”.

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The winning entry was submitted by Frances Ratcliffe of Swansea University College of Science.  She works on the BlueFish project, an EU-funded collaboration between researchers in Wales and Ireland which studies how fish and shellfish respond to climate change.  One of the subjects being examined by the researchers is disease suffered by shellfish and edible crabs.

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Picture: A microscopic image of crab blood, showing what the researchers describe as “the beauty of the crystalline blood cells and jewel-like parasites”.  Submitted by Frances Ratcliffe.  Overall winner, Research as Art 2018

Research as Art is the only competition of its kind, open to researchers from all subjects, and with an emphasis on telling the research story, as well as composing a striking image.

It offers an outlet for researchers’ creativity, revealing the hidden stories and attempts to humanise science and research.  The project also celebrates the diversity, beauty, and impact of research at Swansea University – a top 30 research university.

A record 97 entries were received from researchers across all Colleges of the University.

A distinguished judging panel of senior figures from the Royal Institution, Nature and Research Fortnight magazine selected seven winners.  Along with the overall winner, there were four judges’ awards, and two awards for researchers from other institutions for best national and international entry.

See all the winning entries for Research as Art

Competition founder and director Professor Richard Johnston, professor in materials science and engineering at Swansea University, said:  

“Research as Art is an opportunity for researchers to reveal hidden aspects of their research to audiences they wouldn’t normally engage with. This may uncover their personal story, their humanity, their inspiration, and emotion. 

It can also be a way of presenting their research process, and what it means to be a researcher; fostering dialogue, and dissolving barriers between universities and the wider world.”

Gail Cardew, Professor of Science, Culture and Society at the Royal Institution, said:

“As one of the judges for the Research as Art competition, I wanted to give more people the opportunity to have a peek at them. Not only are some of the images simply stunning, but the beauty also lies in the fact that they are combined with a narrative that explains the work and puts it into context.

The result is a collection of images that make us think more deeply about what it's like to be a researcher - we are able to glimpse their motivations, their frustrations and their achievements. Visitors to the Ri over the coming months certainly have a treat in store.” 

"There are more similarities than differences between science and art" - read Professor Gail Cardew's article

The Royal Institution is one of the pre-eminent scientific establishments in the UK, with a long history of public engagement with science. It is most famous for the number and significance of the scientific advances made in its building, its annual Christmas Lectures, started by John Millington in 1825, and increasingly for its fast-growing YouTube channel providing viewers with an in-depth exploration of science.

WATCH - video of all 17 winning entries