We’ve all been aware what a challenging couple of years this has been for everyone. As part of bringing enrichment and care to the Department we’re working with scientist-turned-artist, Dr Lizzie Burns, on projects celebrating the work we do, and historically.
Following a doctorate and post-doc from the Department of Biochemistry, Lizzie has combined her passion for science, art and education with outreach projects for the MRC, the Wellcome Trust and the British Council. Together with DPAG and the Dunn School, our Department became home for the MRC’s ‘Medical Research Revealed’. Lizzie has encouraged students in our Department to bring science and art together through origami, and invited members of the Department to get creative with the festive ‘Tree of Life’ competition. We now have three ‘Cabinets of curiosity’ to allow changing exhibits starting with our ‘Tree of Life’ project.
In recent months, members have been nominating small molecules of significance for Lizzie to draw for printing onto transparent vinyl to bejewel windows in offices and labs.
Lizzie is also helping to organise our archive as part of celebrating achievements in our Department over the past 110 years.
Lizzie gave a talk to introduce herself to students with a focus on how she has developed her unusual career in combining art, science and science communication. The session was also an opportunity to share new ideas for the Department and encourage the group to join Lizzie in trying origami as mentally stimulating to think in 3D and in support of their wellbeing
Tree of Life competition
To encourage community, creativity and support for wellbeing we ran a competition to create biological decorations for our trees. Pieces were judged anonymously based on originality and beauty, to also reflect themes in our Department.
Medical Research Revealed: Crossing the boundaries between art and science
A long-term display of paintings from ‘Medical Research Revealed’ funded by the Medical Research Council (2002-4). Lizzie created a series of paintings inspired by the scientific work that it funds. The collection of oil paintings looks beyond the practicalities of biomedical research to reveal the secret beauty of the scientific entities yielding answers to many of the world’s major health problems.
Communicating our enrichment programme
Details of all our art and environment enrichment projects are highlighted on a series of refurbished noticeboards in our Reception Area.
Boards have been covered in bright fabric to match the main colours from our 'molecules' project
Cabinets of Curiosity
Three 'Cabinets of Curiousity' have been installed in the Department to feature an evolving display of art enrichment and archive projects.
Currently, we have origami artworks created by our MSc in Pharmacology students in November 2021 and examples from our Tree of Life competition in December 2021, including our winners and runner's up.
The cabinets also feature details of some of our key alumni, including Professor Hugh Blaschko.
Celebrating Research: 110th Anniversary
Celebrating research as part of our 110th Anniversary. Drawings of molecules of significance in collaboration with members of the Department. In recent months, members have been nominating small molecules of significance for Lizzie to draw for printing onto transparent vinyl to bejewel windows in offices and labs.
Dr Lizzie Burns
Lizzie has always combined a deep and active interest in both science and art. She was a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford before becoming a full-time science-based artist and communicator in 2002. Since then Lizzie has continued creating her artwork including drawings for Professor Ray Guillery’s book ‘The Brain as a Tool’ and outreach projects. This includes contributing to ‘C-slide’ based on a collection of teaching microscope slides from Nobel Prize winning Sir Charles Scott Sherrington whose poetic writing includes describing the brain as ‘an enchanted loom’. Lizzie was awarded an OxTALENT prize for inspiring students about Sherrington.
Here are her thoughts on what inspired her to create Medical Research Revealed: “My idea for this unique project came from the Medical Research Council’s mission ‘to promote public engagement with medical research’. As a child I was fascinated by small creatures and painting pictures and these interests have remained an essential part of my life. During my academic career I have combined them by producing paintings based on cellular and molecular biology. Working on a large-scale, in-depth project like Medical Research Revealed has enabled me to develop my art further. It has been a very rewarding experience to apply scientific knowledge to art to reveal the beauty and complexity of life to a wider audience.”