New exhibition by University of Leicester artists in residence visualises DNA research

Posted by ap507 at Nov 06, 2017 09:25 AM |
Exhibition runs from 10 November – 11 January in the University’s Charles Wilson Building

Issued by University of Leicester on 6 November 2017

Images available to download at:

You can watch, download and embed a video about the project:

Preview event, 5-7pm on Friday 10 November in the Charles Wilson Building. Free and open to the public

A new exhibition will showcase a unique art and science project by artists in residence at the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics.

The exhibition, ‘Process: Visualising DNA Research’, will preview on Friday 10 November in the University of Leicester’s Charles Wilson Building and run until 11 January 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free and open to all.

Gillian McFarland and Ruth Singer have been artists in residence in the University’s Department of Genetics throughout 2017, enjoying privileged access to science labs and research facilities as well as the opportunity to talk and share with scientists and researchers in a way not normally possible for artists.

This art and science project is a unique collaboration between the artists and Professor Turi King, the geneticist responsible for the identification of the remains of King Richard III.

During their residency, Leicester-based McFarland and Singer have been working with researchers in the field of genetics to create new artwork inspired by the ideas, processes and conversations with academics including archaeological, yeast and plant DNA.

As part of the project, the artists put together a collaborative artwork made up of petri dishes filled with creative and scientific material generated during their residency. Staff, students, other artists, school groups and members of the public have contributed their own petri dishes, opening up the project to a wide audience of non-scientists.

The artists have also collaborated with scientific glassblower Gayle Price also based in the University to create new work based on their research and have run workshops with local schools to share ideas and generate material for the exhibition.

The project was initiated by the artists and funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England with support from the University of Leicester.

Ruth Singer said: “Having privileged access to the research activity of the University has been fascinating and absorbing. We came in with open minds and very little knowledge of genetics or indeed of what really goes on in labs and have been regularly challenged, enlightened and inspired.

“We have been welcomed and supported throughout the project and have loved engaging in conversations about the crossovers, differences and similarities of science and art practice. Wider engagement and enthusiasm about the project has been extraordinary too, from a feature on BBC Inside Science to creative inputs from local schools to international artists.”

Professor Turi King, Reader in Genetics and Archaeology and Professor of Public Engagement, University of Leicester, said: “Working with artists and seeing their interpretations of the research you do, makes you see your work, and its relevance to the world, in a completely different way.

“While many people see art and science as being diametrically opposed to one another, it hasn’t always been this way: Leonardo Da Vinci is perhaps the best-known embodiment of this, being both a famous artist and scientist. The Artists in Residency project, I think, was indicative of the overlap between art and science and was great fun for all involved.”

The Process exhibition opens in the University’s Charles Wilson Building on Friday 10 November, 5-7pm until 11th January 2018 (closed 22nd December - 1st January inclusive). It then continues in Bath at 44AD Gallery, 4 Abbey St.  Bath.  BA1 1NN 22nd January - 4th February 2018.

Their work has also been selected to be a part of the Berlin Science Festival in November, 2017.

For more information visit:


Notes to editors:

For press enquiries contact Ruth Singer at:

Artwork is available to purchase at exhibitions with pricing starting at £50

About the Artists

Gillian McFarland and Ruth Singer work in collaboration as McFarland & Singer alongside their distinct and established solo artistic practices. Gillian’s work looks to understand how things are defined by the very processes that bring them into existence. Her practice begins with the processes of creating and develops in exploration of what unfolds. Ruth works mainly in textiles, with an emphasis on gathering inspiration from heritage and personal stories. Both bring diverse experiences and a true engagement with audiences to their collaborative partnership. Gillian and Ruth began working together in 2014 while sharing a studio; a space that allowed them to share ideas and approaches. In addition to the work created for this residency, McFarland & Singer have a strong convergence of interest around the archaeology of stains and marks of time.

Gillian studied Fine Art at Central St Martins and worked as an art therapist for many years alongside her own art practice:

Ruth began her professional life working in museums and works across arts and heritage projects:

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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