Culture Online


Why I’d Recommend Creative Collaborations

Five Personal Insights Into Creative Co-Creation from UCL’s Researchers

UCL’s pioneering Public Art Programme has made a name for itself through both a series of thoughtful and impactful commissions from leading creatives, which add to the campus experience and open up interesting new perspectives on UCL’s academic specialisms, and through innovative and powerful exhibitions. 

The most recent of these is Trellis an annual programme collaborative commissions grown from UCL research, which unites UCL academics, contemporary artists and UCL’s local communities to co-create artworks. The participating researchers have come from as diverse a field as robotics, linguistics, dental, plastics, and neuroscience, and their final creations have varied from book arts, and installations, to mobile dining tables, film projections and far beyond. 

Here, five researchers share their personal, fascinating and surprising insights into how they found the experience of participating in Trellis, and why they’d recommend it to others in the UCL community.

Catherine Perrodin

Honorary Research Scientist, The Ear Institute, UCL

It was an excellent learning experience in science communication, collaboration, group dynamics and project management. It was also a lot of fun, and a great new way to meet people with aligned interests whom I otherwise wouldn’t have met.

Hanna Baumann 

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

As UCL researchers, we have a responsibility towards the communities among whom we work - even if our day-to-day research does not directly involve them. With UCL East opening up soon, the university will become a major stakeholder in East London and thus has a duty to understand the priorities of, and serve, the people living in adjacent neighborhoods. If we don’t try to do that, we are working in an ivory tower.  I have occasionally worked with artists in the past, but usually to discuss work they had already made. This was the first time I had the chance to be part of a process from initial conception to exhibition opening (and hopefully beyond!). I learned a lot about the artistic process, but also realised it’s not that different from the research process: you think about your topic from all angles and begin to live and breathe it. You talk about it with your friends and family and it changes the way you see the world. I think both academic writing and artistic production can usually be quite lonely processes as well - but with the community-led approach and each other to bounce ideas off of, this project never was.

Ayse U. Akarca

Research Fellow, UCL Cancer Institute

It is highly recommended. For me it has been an unforgettable experience, I realise the importance of sentimental values that made me feel complete in life. As a research scientist, I have been involved in studies investigating molecules that have diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic potentials. Till to date, I only studied the cells under the microscope without being aware of individuals’ unique life changing stories as well as intangible impact on them.  Being part in this project has affected not only my point of view, it also affected my motivation. I believe such projects between research communities, public and artists can build a bridge that humanised the research.  
The project has certainly changed my practise, in both science and art.   As a scientist I realised that this project increased my focus and strategic thinking while broaden my perspective. It also provided an opportunity to discover my niche that I would like to focus in my future research.    It is extremely challenging for me as an artist to see my own impact in the world. This project demonstrated that creating an idea with hybrid strategies can gain more insight through including different perspectives. Therefore, the lasting impact of this project on my art practise is to enrich different perspectives that are directly or indirectly experiencing complex life challenges.

Maryam Bandukda

PhD student, UCL Interaction Centre

I would absolutely recommend taking part, it’s a great way to engage with community and public and learn skills to communicate research to non-academic audiences.

To discover more about taking part in Trellis or other UCL Public Art activity, visit the website or contact the team.

The powerful Trellis exhibition takes place 29 April – 8 May at The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park. It’s free to visit and everyone is welcome. Find out more and plan your visit on the Trellis website.

From communal meals and audio walks, to interactive photography, art workshops and more, discover Trellis’ fascinating free events and activities programme. Find out more and book your place.

Follow the Trellis journey on social media with the hashtag #UCLTrellis and at @UCLEastEngage on Twitter and Instagram