Arts meets science at the Cardiff Science Festival

Friday 6 July 2012, 17:17

Laura Chamberlain Laura Chamberlain

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Art and science. It's perhaps not the most comfortable or obvious of pairings but the two worlds will overlap next week at the Cardiff Science Festival.

Perhaps surprisingly, there are a number of arts-inspired events taking place at the week long festival, which begins on Monday 9 July.

Intrigued by the new festival I spoke to committee member Sarah Vining, who told me that although there are a number of high profile science festivals that take place across the UK - each of which draws thousands of visitors - Cardiff was sadly lacking in the science festival department.

Largely organised by a team of volunteers and armed with a small amount of funding, the result is a mix of 50 events that blend the quirky with the more conventional lectures and talks.

Dean Burnett

Dean Burnett

Here's the pick of the bunch if you're more arts- rather than science-minded:

  • Cardiff BookTalk event: Cardiff BookTalk is a new book group set up Cardiff University that discus themes from the best in both classic and contemporary literature. In this special festival event on Thursday the group will discuss Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Entry is free but places must be booked in advance, see the Cardiff Science Festival website for more details on how to book a space.
  • Science, art and music event on Friday at The Crofts Pub: featuring an art performance by Barrie Davies from 6pm followed by free live music and entertainment hosted by Scott Travers of Radio Cardiff from 8.30pm.
  • Working with the enemy: the difference between artists and scientists is a talk on Sunday 15 July that will explore the relationship between scientists and artists. It will hopefully encourage a new perception of art and science, and encourage a greater collaboration between the two disciplines in the future.
  • When Science and Comedy Collide: a comedy event, also on the Sunday, presented by Doctor of Neuroscience/stand-up comedian Dean Burnett.

I spoke to Penelope Rose Cowley earlier today, who is the artist in residence at The Crofts Pub in Roath. In addition to the event above there will be an art/science exhibition at the Skittle Alley Gallery there. (It really is an exhibition space in the old skittle alley area of the pub; an inspired idea, if you ask me.)

The exhibition, that will feature work by Penelope plus other artists Barrie J Davies and Bella Woodfield, will run from 1-11pm each day of the festival. Entry is free and no booking is required.

Penelope explained the fascinating theory behind her work, which is based on images of brain scans.

Her work expresses the translation of personal ideas, experiences, thoughts and memories. She also explores the idea of how thoughts are held in the mind and transmitted from the brain to the nervous system - and what that process would like if it was visualised.

An example of Penelope Cowley's work. Image courtesy of the artist

An example of Penelope Cowley's work. Image courtesy of the artist

Penelope's own brain was recently scanned by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine by Dr Silvia de Santis of Cardiff University's Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC). She then used these images to create an artistic translation of her brain imagery - and some of her montages and prints will be on show at the exhibition.

If music is more your thing there are a few intriguing events on the line-up. Science rapper Jon Chase, who some may recognise from CBBC and BBC Bitesize Revision, will perform on Saturday 14 July while scientist Wendy Sadler explores musical science and how musicians mix technology with the richness of human voices to create new sounds in an event called Science of the Voice.

Dr Mark Lewney explains the physics of the rock guitar in Rock Guitar in 11 Dimensions, also next Saturday. According to the festival website he'll use riffs from Vivaldi to AC/DC, explain the secret of the Stradivarius, and show how string vibrations might lie at the heart of the Big Questions about the universe.

Get the latest news for the festival on the Facebook page and check the Cardiff Science Festival website if you want to book places on any of the events.

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