Imagining the Brain – Science through Art

The LMB has been invited to exhibit 18 pieces of work from the “Imagining the Brain” initiative at an art/science collaborative project exploring mental health problems, from a variety of perspectives, including those suffering and those researching solutions. “Inside the Unquiet Mind” is a multi-sensory multi-media arts installation with musical performances and presentations from Cambridge Neuroscience, as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

“Imagining The Brain” is a project which has been running since 2005 with the aim of inspiring young artists about science and then using the artwork to communicate science to others. ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and some of the most complex and exciting science can be better communicated through art by people without specialised scientific training.

Dr Harvey McMahon and Yvonne Vallis within the Neurobiology Division of the LMB organize the competition annually for school pupils from Year 10 onwards. Artists are asked to depict some aspect of biological science, with an emphasis on neuroscience. All of the work is publicly exhibited at the LMB and judged by professional artists and an LMB scientist. A young artist may then be invited to spend some time over the summer holiday in the lab as an artist in residence, where they will use art to communicate the latest research projects to a wider scientific and non-specialised audience.

Verity Miller, a Year 10 student at Parkside Community College, won First Prize this year with her series of drawings on the subject of St(ages) of the Brain entitled “Mind Maps”. Artists were asked to consider how life events and the choices we make help to define us as individuals by shaping the way that our brains develop.

Verity symbolises such development in the form of increasingly complex Ordnance Survey maps within the head of the individual as they progress through their lifetime. The undeveloped natural woodland of the baby undergoes urbanisation as choices through childhood begin to wire specialisations into the brain, like learning a musical instrument, or developing as an artist. As the person becomes older and the neural landscape more complex, there is some restriction on change, but new areas are always available to build.

These are some of the judges comments:
“Really inventive – great plays on words and taking the idea to its conclusion by having parts of the brain as locations.”
“Excellent write-up shows good research of the project.”

In addition to this year’s winner, the pieces of work to be exhibited were chosen on topics ranging from Diversity & Disorder, St(ages) of the Brain, Neurodegeneration and Consciousness. The artists’ responses to these topics explored a variety of aspects of how our brains work in a normal and in a diseased state.

The installation is being held at 47-51 Norfolk Street, Cambridge on Friday and Saturdays 22/23 and 29/30 October 2010 (with presentations from Cambridge Neuroscience on 29 October).

Further references:

Cambridge Festival of Ideas http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/whatson/ideasfestival/detail.shtml?uid=ideasfestival2010%3A794
Imagining the Brain http://www.endocytosis.org/ImaginingTheBrain/