International UWTSD PolliNation Research Project to be exhibited in New York


An international research project led by UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art Professor Catrin Webster and Sarah Tombs, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art & Theory at the University’s School of Fine and Media Arts, will be exhibited at the Mann Gallery at Cornell University in New York, from April- September.

The PolliNation exhibition, funded by UWTSD and Wales Arts International, stems from a UWTSD networking project combining art with science to explore new insights into perceptions of the value of honeybees and wild pollinators to use this new knowledge to influence conservation research and policy decision-making.

Cross-pollination: Revaluing Pollinators through Arts and Science (2016-2017) was a UWTSD networking project combining art with science to explore new insights into perceptions of the value of honeybees and wild pollinators and use this new knowledge to influence conservation research and policy decision-making.

The initial project was funded by both the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Arts Council of Wales (ACW).

The project was led by Professor Andrea Liggins (Principal Investigator) and Sarah Tombs, Senior lecturer, University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD); in partnership with Professor Mike Christie (Co-Investigator), Aberystwyth University; and Dr Natasha de Vere and staff at the National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW).

Three of the artists involved in the project, Professor Andrea Liggins, Sarah Tombs and Professor Karen Ingham had previously collaborated with Dr Natasha de Vere, Head of Science and Conservation at NBGW and leader of the Saving Pollinators Programme, on the Barcode Wales/ UK project, exhibiting the artwork as far afield as China and India. These collaborations led to the development of the Cross-pollination project.

The 10 participating artists include UWTSD staff, current and ex-students:

Professor Catrin Webster

Professor Andrea Liggins

Sarah Tombs

Tyra Oseng-Rees (Honorary Research Fellow)

Professor Karen Ingham (Honorary Research Fellow)

Carly Wilshere- Butler (UWTSD 2018 MA graduate)

Myles Mansfield (UWTSD MA student)

Dr Mark Cocks

Annette Townsend (Cardiff – based Guest artist)

Daniel Trivedi (UWTSD graduate)

This exhibition showcases the results of UWTSD’s Cross-Pollination AHRC, and ACW funded project 2016- 2017.

As part of Cross- Pollination 4 participating artists made visits to Cornell University’s world- leading entomology department.

Sarah Tombs said: “The McArt Lab in the department of Entomology at Cornell University is a world leader in pollinator health research.  Partnerships were formed during the Cross - pollination project (2016-2017) as a result of four X-poll project artists’ visits to Cornell University (Andrea Liggins, Tyra, Oseng-Rees, Sarah Tombs, and Daniel Trivedy).  During our visits we discussed the possibility of exhibiting the project at Cornell University. Cornell Assistant professor Scott Mc Art gave the keynote address at the Cross-Pollination conference in 2017.

“We were invited to exhibit at the Mann Gallery, which is situated in Cornell’s specialist natural science Albert G Mann library April- Sept 2019 and have been awarded funding from Wales Arts International to enable Professor Catrin Webster and I to travel to Cornell curate, and install the exhibition.”

Of particular interest is how such collaborations can affect the way both artists and scientists think about their work.

“Artists and scientists have different training and this affects their views of the world. Working with artists helps me see the work from alternative perspectives, helping me come up with new ideas and think more creatively”, explains Dr Natasha de Vere.

“I have worked on multiple research projects…However this is the first project where I have collaborated with researchers from the Arts. Although I had some misgivings on how Arts and Sciences would work together with both disciplines having such different methods and processes, I was immediately put to rights! This project has opened up a whole set of ideas and ways of looking at scientific research. The whole process has been truly enjoyable… has given me a new insight into visualising scientific research to a much wider audience through, to me at least, very novel methods. The whole process has been a big eye opener to me and I hope to continue collaborating with the arts and across other disciplines through my career.” Duncan Costin, Reading University

One aim of the project was to establish artist/scientist working relationships where aspects of scientific research into the conservation of pollinators could be shared through dialogues where ideas were explored, enabling the partnership artists to produce (in some instances producing collaborative) artworks. 

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

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