Linking two disciplines that are generally considered unrelated, this project aims to expose the idea that science and art aren’t mutually exclusive by running a series of talks and hands-on workshops.
Most artists in the renaissance period were also scientists, from knowing how to make paints, to understanding the optics behind the various effects of brush strokes, to having an intimate understanding of the human body. Through a series of talks, this project will engage students via hands-on learning about the chemical synthesis of pigments and paints, and scientific concepts such as light scattering and absorbance which gives paints their colour. The activities will be a unique combination of grasping scientific concepts alongside creative fun. It will highlight that an understanding of science can help to fully appreciate art, and also that scientific concepts that make paintings visually appealing can be applied to make cutting edge technology, such as spectrophotometry, optics and materials science.
Project Team & Links
Through this project we hope to understand the stereotypes people imagine artists and scientists to be and try to break down that barrier. So far we have managed to get two confirmed speakers for early May. Dr Spike Bucklow, Head of Conservation at Hamilton-Kerr institute, University of Cambridge (on the 9th of May) and Ms Kristine Rose Beers, Senior Conservator at the Chester Beatty Library, (3rd of May) will give us insights into how science helps understand artwork better, and how it helps restoration and conservation practices.
We are also in the process of sending invites to schools to take up a small survey to establish the stereotypes in art and science, and we are also making arrangements to get ethical clearance to work with students. We have planned our experiments for the workshop and identified an art teacher. Two schools from the survey will be chosen at random to participate in the workshops. A second survey will be carried out at the end with these schools, to see if there has been a change in their perceptions about the same. We are also in the process of procuring chemicals and arranging lab space to run these workshops, tentatively mid to end of March (subject to when the schools do not have exams).
In collaboration with Kitchen Chemistry and Youth Academy we ran experiments with gifted 10-12 year old children.
These session involved explaining the theory behind the origin of colors and how we can make use of light to study molecules. We showed the students how it is possible to measure what type of light is being absorbed or transmitted by various food colorings using a UV spectrometer. Although they found it a bit abstract at first, they started to understand the theoretical aspects when they saw the machine in action and began to ask insightful questions. The experiments had the students make inorganic pigments and dyes such as lamp black, malachite and indigo using methods that are hundreds of years old. The children were very enthusiastic and loved painting with dyes that they have made themselves. We have received very positive feedback from the students and their parents about the experiments and look forward to hosting our first Explore Science in Art workshop based on these practicals.
The workshop for students has been organised for the 30th of April on first come first serve basis for individual participants. Mrs Kristine Rose Beers, Senior conservator at the Chester Betty library, Trinity college Dublin is giving a talk titled, “Lapis & Gold: looking at manuscripts through the eyes of a Conservator “ and Dr Peter Crowley, from the School of Chemistry, NUIG is giving a talk titled, “ From Science to Art and back again” on the 6th of May, 2016. Dr Spike Bucklow, Head of conservation at Hamilton-Kerr institute, University of Cambridge is giving a talk titled, “Can science help you understand art better “on the 9th of May, 2016.
Find more information on our facebook page: facebook.com/ExploreScienceinArt