Where Science + Art Collide: Science Gallery London

Science Gallery London is a new space for 15-25 year olds in the heart of London, which hosts creativity inspired by scientific research.

Firstly, could you tell us in only 10 words about Science Gallery London…
Science Gallery London is where art and science collide.

Now’s your chance to expand, with a more in depth description of what this involves…
The first answer doesn’t really do the Gallery justice!  Science Gallery London is a brand-new free to visit space just opposite the Shard in London Bridge. Part of King’s College London, it is a vibrant, interactive place where art and science collide through exhibitions and events which are developed by artists, scientists and young people.

We’re a space for everyone, but one of our primary aims is to capture the imagination of young people aged 15-25 and inspire them to consider their world in a new way. We want to help create a world where young people feel confident about challenging research and culture to affect change. Our regularly changing programme provides a platform for people to share their thoughts on cutting-edge research from King’s, and to question some of the most pressing questions society faces today.

Image Courtesy of @RichTeaFilms

Our first season looks at the complex topics of addiction and recovery – from drugs, alcohol and smoking right through to social media and smartphones. A whole strand of the exhibition is dedicated to digital addiction as this is a topic that was flagged as a really important issue for young people in London today in relation to addiction when we held consultations. It’s really important to us that the topics and themes addressed in the exhibitions and our events resonate with young people.

How did it begin?
Science Gallery London is part of a global network that started with Science Gallery Dublin in 2008, ten years ago. The Science Gallery was pioneered by Trinity College Dublin, and it was so successful that universities the world over wanted to have their very own Science Gallery. Because of the demand, Science Gallery International (SGI) was founded and they lead on the creation of the world’s first university-led network dedicated to public engagement with science and art, which ignites the creative potential of young people to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. SGI’s aim was (and still is!) to open 8 galleries across the world with a university-led model. King’s approached SGI about getting its very own Gallery. The university has a commitment to being a university in service to London and to turning its face outwards for the public to engage with its research. Science Gallery London is the second gallery within the network to open up its very own permanent space.

How has the gallery developed since it’s conception?
The Gallery has moved from pop-ups to having its very own space! The team has grown since its first pop-up season Frequencies in 2014, and now there are several people with a lot of experience in different fields enabling us to do much more in terms of programming, marketing, community engagement and visitor experience.

Image Courtesy of by Gareth Jones

What’s your proudest achievement associated with Science Gallery?
Getting the building open and seeing HOOKED: When Want Becomes Need in place. It’s amazing to see visitors within the exhibition and their reactions to the artworks on display in there. The fact that there a number of new commissions in the show is also a huge achievement and it really illustrates how we engage with people who have direct experience of the issues that are addressed in HOOKED and bring out voices that are not necessarily expected to be found within an art gallery.

The Workshop by Dryden Goodwin is one particular example. We invited a group of young offenders to explore experiences and attitudes to substance misuse through art and science. The boys found their own unique voices through theatrical performances and poetry developed with Mr Gee and Angus Scott-Miller. Dryden documented this process and worked with the boys and their art teacher to create experimental drawings including his own fragmentary studies of them. Dryden’s visual essay, combining drawing, photography and text, reveals and reflects on the boys’ process of exploring the sensory and emotional effects of drugs on their lives. They’re not a group who you usually expect to hear stories from in a gallery, so I think it’s really important that they’ve been given this platform.

@Image Courtsey of Dryden Goodwin

What is the biggest difficulty you faced leading up to the opening?
Not having enough hours in the day to do all the things you want to in the lead up to the big opening! With a brand-new building there’s a lot of things to learn about how we work and what’s in the building, but the Gallery is now open, and people are coming in to visit every day, so we must have done a good job!

Image Courtesy of Rachel Maclean

How do you hope SGL will evolve in the future?
With HOOKED we seem to have got off to a great start in our new home. I’d like to see the Gallery mentioned in the same breath as all the other wonderful galleries in London as a must-see destination on the cultural map, and for us to continue working with artists and scientists at the forefront of their fields. Hopefully in the near future, we’ll see a world where young people aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo around the pressing issues in society today and that they will feel comfortable in questioning research (in science but also in other disciplines) and affecting change, and that we can say that Science Gallery London played a part in that.

Check out the Science Gallery’s events here ->https://london.sciencegallery.com

Interview with Rhianon Davies, Marketing and Communications Officer of Science Gallery London.
Featured image courtesy of Olivia Locher.

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