LASER Talks in London

LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) is Leonardo/ISAST's international program of evening gatherings that brings artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversations.

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CHAIRS: Heather Barnett and John R A Smith

A Picture of Health

London LASER presents an evening of talks and discussion exploring the relationships between art, health and medical research.

This event brings together artists, curators, scientists, and health professionals to discuss a diverse set of practices where art and heath intersect. Topics for discussion will include the consdierations of art in a range of health settings, the ethical implications for artists working directly with personal medical experience, and collaborative processes between artists and scientists investigating contemporary medical research.

Speakers include artist Susan Aldworth, art consultant Nikki Crane; Jenna Stevens-Smith (Head of Communications and Engagement) and Lucy Brown (creative producer) from the Medical Research Council (London Institute of Medical Sciences), and participating artists and scientists from A Picture of Health project.

Part 1: Art in Health | Health in Art

This section explores the role of the artist in a health context and the place of personal experience and evidence-based medical research within a wider fine art context.

Susan Aldworth is a visual artist whose work investigates consciousness and what it means to be human. Her experimental work in print, time-based media and installation includes ground breaking etchings printed directly from human brain tissue. Her work is held in many public and private collections including V&A, British Museum, and Wellcome Collection. She has exhibited widely including solo exhibitions at Fitzwilliam Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Current exhibitions: Illuminating the Self at Hatton Gallery and Vane in Newcastle, and Freelands Foundation in London. Aldworth is an associate lecturer on the MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins and is a regular presenter on BBC Radio. Susan will talk about the project, Out of the Blue, which explores the experience of epilepsy and discuss the complexity of collaborative practice, the challenges of working with evidence and experience and the value of art within a healthcare context.

More at
Radio 4 programme on current exhibition Illuminating the Self:
Art of Now: The Algorhythms of Epilepsy (BBC Radio 4)

Nikki Crane trained in dance and has over thirty years experience working in the arts, first as a practitioner and then in strategy and funding. Whilst at Arts Council England, she led the development of the Arts Council’s first national strategies for Arts and Criminal Justice and Arts and Health and as Head of Arts Strategy at Guy's & St Thomas' Charity commissioned an £8 million portfolio of arts and health programmes working in partnership with artists, clinicians, researchers and local commissioners. Nikki is now working with King's College London developing their vision for arts & health including supporting the delivery of 'SHAPER' (Scaling-up Health-Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research), the world’s largest study into the impact of arts on physical and mental health supported by a £2m award from the Wellcome Trust. She continues as an advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Arts Health and Wellbeing; the Mayor's Office on social prescribing and is working with Southwark Council to develop the UK’s first borough-wide arts, health & wellbeing strategy.

Part 2: A Picture of Health

A Picture of Health is a collaborative project between the Medical Research Council London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) and the University of Arts London, Central Saint Martins (UAL: CSM), bringing together artists and scientist to explore key areas of medical research.

Over a period of 6 months students from MA Art and Science and MA Fine Art engaged with medical scientists working on a range of themes, including: Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection; Artificial Intelligence and Data Science; Environment and Health; Mental Health; and Sleep. The artists created interpretations of ‘A Picture of Health’ in response to these vital areas of current research, exhibiting the results at Elephant West, White City, in November 2019. Continuing from this successful pilot, the A Picture of Health project will develop into a larger collaboration between artists and scientists in line with the opening of our new building. The MRC hope this will be the beginning of a reinvigorated understanding of what health is and what it means to us both as individuals and as communities.

Discussing the project are:

Lucy Brown is an independent interdisciplinary creative working at the intersections between science and art. She specialises in developing creative methods and programmes as tools to meaningfully engage different public groups and diverse communities with scientific research. She has a background in the natural sciences and has worked at organisations including the New Scientist, Science Museum, Science Gallery and InScience International Film Festival. In her most recent role at MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucy was creative producer on A Picture of Health, integral to facilitating the collaborations and managing the project. She will reflect on the complexities of managing art-science projects and the factors that necessitate success in their design, exhibition and associated programming.

Dr Jenna Stevens-Smith is a public engagement and communications professional with an imaginative appreciation of science and engineering and strong grasp of current affairs. She has a BEng and PhD in bioengineering and has been working in the field since 2007. In 2018 she joined the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) as Head of Communications and Engagement. In this role Dr Stevens-Smith leads on communications, partnerships and engagement projects and events. Current projects include engagement and communications around the new LMS building, Suffrage Science, Heroes of Health, A Picture of Health, Biomedical Picture of the Day, Innovation Mixers, Community Engagement and Pioneers of Progress.

Participating artists are: Phil Barton, Lois Bentley, Lottie Bolster, Teresa Byrne, Mariana Heilmann, Laura Madeley, Rosie Riley, Riko Yasumiyaand Rose Mengmei Zhou. They will be joined by some of the participating scientists including: Jonny Jackson.

More info on A Picture of Health

The event is free but booking is required.

London LASER is hosted by University of the Arts London (Central Saint Martins MA Art and Science) and University of Westminster (CREAM), and has been running since February 2014.




LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) Talks is Leonardo's international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversations. LASER Talks were founded in 2008 by Bay Area LASER Chair Piero Scaruffi and are in over 30 cities around the world. To learn more about how our LASER Hosts and to visit a LASER near you please visit our website

The mission of the LASERs is to provide the general public with a snapshot of the cultural environment of a region and to foster interdisciplinary networking.

February 19th, 2020 7:00 PM   through   9:00 PM
1 Granary Square
Central Saint Martins, Room C202
University of the Arts
Kings Cross, LON N1C 4AA
United Kingdom

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