Trellis: Public Art
Bringing together researchers, artists and communities.

Trellis written on white background with cellular web in light blue behind

What is Trellis: Public Art?

Trellis: Public Art is a programme of knowledge exchange between researchers and artists, part of the wider vision for UCL Public Art and Community Engagement to create opportunities for collaboration between artists, researchers and communities based around the future UCL East campus.

Visit the 2022 exhibition website

Trellis is a multistage funding scheme to support UCL researcher and east London artists to collaborate and exchange knowledge. The stages are:

  1. Supported matchmaking.
  2. Stage 1: Initial funding of £2,000 to develop relationships and explore ideas for collaboration.
  3. Stage 2: Commission of £15,000 for collaborations to create work for display/exhibition.

Trellis is co-funded by UCL Public Art and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Find out more about the programme. 


Previous Projects:

15 collaborations have been commissioned to be co-created as part of Trellis since 2018. 

Trellis 3 projects:

Six collaborative projects worked together in 2021-22. These projects were chosen from a competitive initial group of 12 collaborations who developed initial ideas. The artists, researchers and communities involved in these projects exhibited their work at the Art Pavilion in Mile End in April 2022. More information can be found on the exhibition website.

Tailor-Made - Kassandra Lauren Gordon and Ayse Akarca

Tailor-Made is an active participatory project that looks insight into individuals have a relationship with cancer through wearable art. It allows participants to learn about the microscopic features of tissue samples and to use it as stimulus to design their own jewellery piece telling their own personal stories of their cancer journey. The process of this project involves on three-way partnership between artist/scientist/community to promote cancer awareness & research, archive memories and break social taboos in life.

Kassandra Lauren Gordon
Kassandra is an award-winning conceptual jeweller/Goldsmith and jewellery content creator based in east London. She has studied jewellery manufacture and design in Hatton Garden. Kassandra was a former social researcher, youth worker, community worker and domestic violence professional. She has always wanted to empower people to find their voice, especially when life is not easy. On 17 June 2020 she wrote an open letter to the jewellery industry about the experience of Black Jewellers and Silversmiths and industry professionals, highlighting how current practices and systems limit accessibility/entry into the trade for Black people. Kassandra has been appointed by Birmingham City University as a Visiting Professor and Industry Fellow.

Dr. Ayse U. Akarca
Ayse is a research fellow at UCL Cancer Institute and works in the team of Prof.  Teresa Marafioti.  Ayse is involved in the research that focuses on the development and application of tissue- based assays to study molecules that have novel diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic potentials. She uses computerised image analysis tools for tumour microenvironment related studies to investigate the mechanisms underpinning cancer biology. Ayse  is also an artist and she uses her artistic skills to create abstract paintings inspired by her scientific work. She is very much keen to explore creative ideas to experiment and understand their impact on cancer awareness and research in life by attracting wider society

Material Design Meets AI - Ella Bulley and Amy Widdicombe

Material Design Meets AI is a collaboration which explores the use of materials as learning tools to teach about elements of AI and bring it to a new audience. It aims to respond to – and intervene in – the disparity of underrepresented groups in both AI and Design. By introducing AI, Materials and Design in a series of creative workshops with youth centres, the collaboration will explore how materials can be used to make both AI and Art and Design accessible to the wider public. The feedback and output from these to design and develop a final “Interactive Installation” for the workshop participants and the general public to enjoy in spring 2022.

Ella Bulley
Ella is a Material Designer and Artist, based in South East London, creating work that explores textiles, product, art and set design.

Amy Widdicombe
Amy is a Computer Science PhD student. Her research focuses on “Interpretable” AI (sometimes also called Explainable AI or XAI).

Patterns of Connection - Marysa Dowling and Catherine Perrodin and Liam Browne

As we wake up from an unsettling year marked by a brutal shift to virtual communication and over-reliance on our small “bubbles”, how do we use all of our senses to reconnect with each other and build new bridges across communities?
In a time when we have been starved of physical interaction, and our usual means of communication have been disrupted, Artist Marysa Dowling will collaborate with researchers Catherine Perrodin and Liam Browne to co-create a series of playful interventions within and between families in east London to explore communication through sound, touch and vision. Journeys through communication will create a new playful multi-sensory language and map the existing and newly developed invisible threads of communication between people and families from diverse backgrounds.

The objective is threefold:

  • To create interactive spaces where families can playfully explore communication together and with us.
  • To map and record with simple materials and technologies the forms of communication we create.
  • To change perceptions about the impact and role of art and science, demonstrating how they can productively intersect as opposed to being distinct ways of understanding what communication is.

Marysa Dowling
Marysa is a photographic artist concerned with human behaviour; my work has participation at its heart. I build community through shared photographic experiences, encouraging people to explore how they communicate and relate to each other and their environments. I often cultivate the same theme in several countries, building connections across communities, societies and cultures. My work is created through social interaction, particularly non-verbal forms such as hand gestures. Current projects include; The Conversation, working with women in the UK, Ireland and Mexico using photographic portraiture to explore how we interact with familiar environments, and use the hand and gestures to communicate and exchange. Known in Your Bones, is an Arts and Heritage project around Vitamin D with All Change. My interest in the cross over between art and science is central to how my practice has developed.

Dr. Catherine Perrodin
Catherine is a biomedical engineer and neuroscientist, whose research focuses on understanding how the brain enables us to communicate with each other. I work with mice to study how female listeners use the patterns in the ultrasonic courtship songs from males to choose a mate. I also study how the electrical activity of neurons in the brain of the listener carries information about the meaning of these communication sounds. In my previous work, I discovered specialized brain cells that encode information about voices and showed how the brain combines acoustic information from voices with visual information from faces. As such, the key themes of my work are vocal communication, social behaviour, auditory perception, interactions between different senses, and the analysis of neuronal activity patterns. 

Dr. Liam Browne
Liam is a neuroscientist investigating how the brain makes sense of the world around us through our skin. My research aims to understand how the brain and behaviour are shaped by touch and pain, and how the separation between touch and pain narrows in chronic pain conditions. My lab also develops new technologies to study behaviour. I undertook postdoctoral training at Manchester and Harvard, and am currently a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow in the UCL Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research. The key themes of my work are touch, pain, emotion, quantitative analysis of behaviour, and the interaction between different senses.

Another Provision - Johann Arens and Hanna Baumann

Another Provision is the collaborative project of researcher Dr. Hanna Baumann (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity) and artist Johann Arens. We share a deep interest in communal food infrastructures and the implementation of ethical and low-waste food chains, as part of a political vision of Universal Public Services, free to all at the point of access. Email Another Provision for more information.

During the Covid crisis, the food insecurity long plaguing communities across east London has come into sharp relief. We will be exploring ways to work towards food justice by examining the networks needed to sustain it as an essential service and a basic human right. In partnership with the National Food Service, we will apply strategies of public art to highlight the need for increased food equality, to jointly imagine concrete alternative models of community food provision and to de-stigmatise free and surplus food services.

Our joint inter-disciplinary research will examine food as part of an urban metabolism: a circulatory network that connects urban agriculture and food production to preparation and distribution, as well as redistribution of surplus food and the recycling of waste. We will co-produce our project through a series of five workshops and public events exploring the links between food and community, as well as imaginaries of more just urban futures. This process of co-production will result in a printed publication to shape an affirmative discourse around food services and a public art installation aiming to bring disparate groups together through food.

Johann Arens
Johann uses installation and video to survey the documentary properties of public interiors and their inherent social textures. These site-related interventions are enquiries into the multiple ways social policy can impact our communal life and shape civil behaviour. He has been resident at Fondazione Antonio Ratti, BSR in Rome, Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and realised a number of public art commissions assigned by Arnolfini Bristol, Bold Tendencies London, Jerwood Space London and Kettle’s Yard Cambridge. Recent work has been shown at Manifesta13 Marseille (2020); Pump House Gallery London (2019); IMMA Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin; P/////AKT Amsterdam, IFFR Rotterdam (2018) and Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (2016).

Dr. Hanna Baumann
Hanna is an interdisciplinary urban researcher with a background in Architecture,Art, and Migration Studies. She is concerned with the ways the built environment enables or disables the participation of marginalised residents of the city and frequently uses visual, participatory and arts-based methods to explore this. Her current work, funded by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, examines the role of infrastructures and public services in excluding
and incorporating refugees in Beirut and Berlin.

Duncan Paterson (brother_Sjur) and Azadeh Shariati and Helge Wurdemann

How can we use creative technology to empower disadvantaged communities in a socially-isolated world?

We’ve assembled a multidisciplinary team: Duncan Paterson, a computational artist, alongside Azadeh Shariati & Helge Wurdemann from the Soft Robotics department of UCL Mechanical Engineering. Together, we are building a project that aims to engage local community groups in a process of genuine co-creation, idea development and build. Our collective vision is: “to explore, through a process of intense collaboration and co-creation, how we can use our respective skills as researchers and artists to meet challenges faced by disadvantaged people in this pandemic era.”

To make this a reality, we’re working closely with <Code>YourFuture to engage local communities at every stage, from concept to build and beyond, in a unique art/science project with a lasting legacy. In doing so, we aim to explore the psychological effects of the pandemic lockdown, compounded by the alienation of migrant people, and encourage a creative engagement with technology, empower participants with new skills and give them a voice to tell their stories.

Duncan Paterson
Duncan is an intra-active artist, recently graduated with an MA in Computational Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London. My practice uses software, physical computing assemblages and living things to make immersive installations that challenge received anthropocentric ideas of the human/tech relationship and to explore alternative tech/bio futures. I’m also part of the 0rphan Drift Art Team, working on Project ISCRI: an AI coded by an octopus, in partnership with the Serpentine Creative AI Lab.

Dr. Azadeh Shariati
Azadeh is a research fellow within the UCL Mechanical Engineering. Over the last 15 years, my research focus has been on designing, modelling, and fabrication of complex robotic systems as well as social and cognitive robotics with the focus on utilizing robotic technologies for rehabilitation of children with Autism and cancer. In 2019, I’ve joined the Soft Haptics & Robotics Lab at UCL with focus on different compliant and soft robots. Currently, I am interested in how robotic technologies, especially soft robots, can physically or socially interact with humans.

Dr. Helge Wurdemann
Helge is a roboticist and Associate Professor of Robotics leading research on soft haptics and robotics at UCL Mechanical Engineering. My group focuses on the hardware design and application of soft material robotic systems that have the ability to change their shape and stiffness on demand bridging the gap between traditional rigid and entirely soft robots. I create and embed innovative stiffness-controllable mechanisms as well as combine advanced Artificial Intelligence with control strategies in robotic prototypes emerging from my lab.

Material Conversations - Caroline Wright and Tim Adlam, Maryam Bandukda, Youngjun Cho and Ben Oldfrey

This project brings together researchers, artists, disabled and non-disabled people to explore and discover new perspectives into enablement empowered by technology and creativity. Artist Caroline Wright is collaborating with researchers Dr Tim Adlam, Dr Youngjun Cho, Maryam Bandukda and Dr Ben Oldfrey, to discover where creative approaches can intersect with technology to bring new and stimulating experiences to people. Through capturing and measuring sensory responses to creative work, the project offers possibilities to harness sensations, evocations and communications in and across the languages of art, science, technology and humanness.

Through a series of workshops for disabled people and their families in east London, we will focus on skin, touch, breath and sound, aiming to offer multi-sensory environments that are participatory and fun; where voluntary and involuntary responses can be translated from and into creative work using direct means and sensing technology.

Caroline Wright
Caroline is an artist who is interested in our engagement with the world that surrounds us, with a particular interest in water, breath and sound. In her practice she investigates ideas through material investigation and dialogue with people, realising her work in live performance, drawings and texts that are often site responsive. Recent commissions include projects for The Judge Business School Cambridge University, Breath Control, a multi-faceted project shown at The Coronet Theatre London and for Cambridge Science Festival at Cambridge Junction and Out of Water, a performance for London 2012, PSi 19, San Francisco, USA and Edinburgh Festival.

Dr. Tim Adlam
Tim is an engineer and clinical scientist in assistive technology and disability based at the UCL Global Disability Innovation Hub. He has worked with disabled people to design and develop assistive technology. Tim is the father of a disabled child, a woodwind musician and an educator, teaching disabled and non-disabled students how to solve problems.

Maryam Bandukda
Maryam is a PhD student and researcher at UCL Global Disability Innovation Hub, who has been working to understand lived experiences of disabled people and work closely with them to explore the challenges that limit their experiences and participation in the community.

Dr. Youngjun Cho
Youngjun is computational physiologist and computer scientist at UCL’s Global Disability Innovation Hub. In his work, he explores and builds novel technologies for the next generation of AI powered physiological computing that helps boost disability technology.

Dr. Ben Oldfrey

Ben is a researcher in digital making, sensing and materials based at UCL Global Disability Innovation Hub and the UCL Institute of Making. His research is on the interaction between technology and the user, in particular focusing on skin and how we can emulate its sensory functions and materials properties.


Trellis 2 projects:

Trellis 2 brought together 80+ artists and researchers, and expanded on Trellis 1 by involving research from all disciplines and placing a greater emphasis on involving communities in the co-create of artwork.

Although heavily effected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the five projects that were commissioned for exhibition in March 2021 went above and beyond to achieve great results in collaboration with their community partners.

Visit the Trellis Festival website to find out more about the five collaborations. 

Flow Unlocked - Jon Adams, Briony Campbell and Georgia Pavlopoulou

Flow Unlocked was a creative participatory research project which seeks to highlight the importance of relationships to autistic people, rewrite the damaging stereotypes that exist about autistic people and investigate the questions of co-authorship and representation inherent to our process.

Traditionally, projects are made about autistic people not with them, the consequences of which continue to harm autistic lives. Flow Unlocked breaks the mould by redefining autistic narratives from the perspective of lived experience. Autistic people relate to the world with intense sensitivity. This is rarely recognised let alone celebrated. With our autistic participants we reflected on the relationships that have sustained autistic people during the pandemic, as well as those they miss. 

With authentic participation as a priority within Flow Unlocked,  our approach to collaboration is not just as a methodology but also a subject to study in itself. We aimed to turn our process inside out so it could be revealed to our audience, in parallel to the core stories of autistic relationships.  

Flow Unlocked is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Jon Adams, autistic artist and campaigner, Briony Campbell, artist and facilitator, and Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou, researcher in Developmental Psychology and Mental Health, UCL specialist in autistic people's relationships. 

Flow Unlocked has been featured on the website of the The British Psychological Society.

Jon Adams

Jon is a polymath artist working cross-platform with image, poetry, sound, performance and spoken word. His work references synaesthesia, autism, dyslexia, autobiography, science and hidden metaphor, resulting in unique visual perspectives of systemizing history, time and place. 

His national artist profile includes commissions from Parliament, Autism Research Centre Cambridge, London2012, Wellcome, Arts Council England & Leverhulme grants and has worked alongside Sir Peter Brook. He campaigns for wider recognition, equity and understanding of Neurodivergent Culture within the arts as ‘Flow Observatorium’. He actively promotes research into suicide in autism, mental health of artists and dismantling barriers to inclusion and participation. 

Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou

I have been working for 18 years with autistic people and their families. I train mental health practitioners across the UK, through HEE fundings at Anna Freud Centre. I am an Early Career Researcher based at UCL, Department of Psychology and Human Development. I have a passion working with multidisciplinary teams, experts by experience and scholar activists in community-based mental health research. I am using a combination of behavioural, phenomenological and participatory techniques together with a developmental approach to understand social determinants of common aversive experiences in autistic people and their families (stress, sleep, loneliness, low mood, trauma). 

Briony Campbell 

I am a photographer, filmmaker and creative facilitator. I create stories about how our interactions form our identities, which have been exhibited and awarded internationally. Relationships, intercultural relations, social integration, and loss are main themes. Projects include: An ongoing documentary on British+African families in East Africa; 'The Dad Project', a collaboration with my Dad in the last months of his life; A film about differing belief systems within close relationships. I believe that participatory methodologies can amplify the diversity of voices that a healthy society needs to hear. I have collaborated with academics, health professionals, campaigners, activists and artists. Briony's website.

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Xenia Citizen Science Project - Sarah Carne, Charnett Chau and Danielle Purkiss

Over the course of six months, Charnett Chau and Danielle Purkiss from the UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub and artist Sarah Carne collaborated with Xenia to run a Citizen Science Project around plastic design, food waste and composting. Based on the Hub’s Big Compost Experiment, this smaller version offered an opportunity for the researchers to find out about people’s experience in more personal detail. In addition to working with the composting group who experimented with bokashi bins, hot bins and wormeries we held online sessions for the wider group to discuss citizen science itself, food waste, plastics and associated topics including space, smell and the practicalities of where to donate your compost if you don’t have access to a garden. 

Following Xenia’s practice of using objects in Hackney Museum’s collection as prompts for conversation we spent time talking about Object No  2008.202, a ‘degradabag’ accessioned a number of years earlier and now slowly biodegrading in a plan chest in the stores. The resulting discussion about collection care brought to mind other evidencing of care during the experiment: Xenia’s care for its members, Hackney Museum’s warm virtual welcoming of the women back to a space that had been shut to them for months, the citizen scientists’ concern for their bins and the artist and researchers’ own practices. As a result, the idea of how care manifests in practice became central to the outcome of the commission.

A Bitter Orange Tree and an Orange Tree: Practices of Care is an anthology of contributions by those involved, whether by role, occupation or volunteer activity as citizen scientist. As the bringing together of content developed this naturally extrapolated out to include those involved in the process of its production, and in the spirit of collaboration and shared learning, others’ experience and knowledge is brought into the final work. 

Charnett Chau

Charnett is a Research Associate within the Department of Chemical Engineering and at the UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub (PWIH). She has a biochemical engineering background and is specialised in applying life cycle thinking to analyse the environmental impact of products and systems - life cycle assessments (LCAs). She has co-authored reports on the current UK system for biodegradable plastics and recently on the environmental dangers of single-use masks. Her research approach within the Hub informs areas for improvement within plastic systems and assists with the optimisation of sustainable design-interventions. Charnett is interested in the communication of research to the public and is intrigued by how art can enhance this communication.

Danielle Purkiss

Danielle is an Architect, designer, communicator, and Research Fellow at the UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub (PWIH). Drawing from a diverse range of design and communication skills, her research focus is on sustainable design led systems interventions and circular economy thinking. Danielle is co-creator of the Big Compost Experiment citizen science study into compostable plastics, and has co-authored reports on the current UK system for biodegradable plastics with PWIH. Danielle is interested in exploring the intersection of art, design, and materials research, with a particular focus on the role of communication techniques to facilitate the exchange of ideas.

Sarah Carne

Sarah Carne is an artist based in east London whose concerns are around status, value and rank and how these determine the opportunities we access, the materials we use and how we are perceived. Of particular interest are age, gender and how our society is structured to privilege those who can manifest confidence. She uses text, video and conversation as a way of drawing attention to and undermining the metrics and language that serve as barriers to participation. She has no interest in telling anyone they should be the best version of themselves but might ask what their best vegetable is. 

Mulberry: The Tree of Plenty - Sara Heywood & Jane Watt and David Chau

Mulberry - Tree of Plenty is a collaborative project between artists Sara Heywood & Jane Watt, and UCL science researcher Dr David Chau. The project explores the materiality of the iconic mulberry tree (Morus nigra and Morus alba).

The team have worked with community participants and St Margaret’s House to learn and share knowledge about the mulberry trees of Bethnal Green, east London. Together they have explored local heritage walks, mulberry tasting, gel formation, fabrication and profiling, skeletonization and ghosting of leaves, 3D digital scanning, ink making, drawing, nurturing and growing saplings.

To find out more about the project visit the Mulberry - Tree of Plenty website.

Sara Heywood & Jane Watt

Sara Heywood and Jane Watt have developed and presented art projects independently and collaboratively for over twenty years, nationally and internationally. They apply analogue and digital techniques to drawing, installation, performance, film, photography, audio and sculpture. Intrinsic to their practice is a shared interest in developing partnership and collaboration through dialogue with people and place such as commission projects with Bow Arts and Notting Hill Housing at Royal Docklands, London as well as Central St Martin’s, Islington Council with TfL in Archway, London. Their recent public commission Reflections on Home involved over 250 local people on the Alton Estate, Roehampton, resulting in interactive sound sculptures, performance walks and a mobile walking app. 

Instagram: @sara.heywood    @janewattprojects

David Chau

David specialises in the development and (re)purposing of materials for novel uses including healthcare, drug development, the environment and sustainability. He originally trained as a chemical engineer before gaining an interest in biotechnology (BEng, MSc, University of Birmingham) which led to the completion of a PhD in Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials (Nottingham Trent/Aston University). He undertook a PDRA role with Professor Kevin Shakesheff and Professor Amir Ghaemmaghami (University of Nottingham) in Tissue Engineering/Advanced Drug Delivery/Immunology, as well as a Senior PDRA with the Cell and Organism Engineering Laboratory of Professor Alan Tunnacliffe (University of Cambridge). Continuing his research and academic interests as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, at the University of Hertfordshire, he then joined UCL. 


H Is For Hostile Environment - Edwin Mingard and Keren Weitzberg

Edwin Mingard and Keren Weitzberg conceived of a moving-image piece that would explore migration and asylum seeking in East London. Whilst the project was borne from overlapping professional interests, they also saw it as a chance to work in a mutual way with partners whose lives and work had been shaped by the UK’s border regime, providing a platform to tell a story with multiple voices and narratives.

The piece has been co-produced in close dialogue and collaboration with those who have first-hand experience of migration as well as those who are actively challenging the Home Office’s draconian and surveillance-intensive policies. The themes and topics that emerged from these collaborative sessions came to dramatically reshape the piece. What emerged was differing stories of navigating life in East London, carving out spaces and forcing open pathways amidst xenophobia, bureaucratic pressures from the Home Office, border violence, and loss and nostalgia for ‘home.’ Some of these stories are intergenerational; some are set in the past; others focus on the present. They speak to the tensions between hostility and hospitality that have long shaped and reshaped East London.

We see this work as a way of turning the lens on the hostile environment policy, which is bringing devastation to so many and increasingly outsourcing immigration enforcement onto society at large. But rather than telling a story of assimilation or multiculturalism (a story of minorities ‘fitting into’ East London), this piece is focused on the ways that London itself is remade in spite of barriers to inclusion. Migrants, asylum seekers, and their advocates are envisioning alternative futures for Britain, actively wrestling with the hostile environment policy, and trying to find more just, if messy answers to the question of who is welcome. 

H Is For Hostile Environment secured supplementary funding from Arts Council England. The film will be exhibited when finished in venues in east London.

Keren Weitzberg

I am an interdisciplinary historian who works at the intersection of science and technology studies, migration studies, and critical race studies. I examine problematics related to mobility, digital identity, and biometrics. My first book, We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya, looked at Somali transnational networks in Kenya. My new project explores the history of biometric identification in Kenya and the impact of new digital identity systems on those at the political and economic margins. My recent work has been funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Program, Privacy International, and the Alan Turing Institute.

Edwin Mingard

I am a socially engaged visual artist. I hold a Philosophy degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. I have a parallel moving image curatorial practice, and have founded collaborative organisations in the arts sector including Deptford Cinema (London, UK) and satellite, a moving image organisation. Recently I was selected for Constellations (2019-20), a national, socially-engaged artists research programme curated by UP Projects/FlatTime House; received a BFI Made Of Truth Award (2019); received Encounters Festival’s Depict British Special Mention Award (2018) for my artists film Walk; and was selected as one of 2020’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries. 

image at dusk. Man in right of image holds arm aloft pointing to the left side of frame where the London skyline is visible including the Shard.
Light-Wave - Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq and Bencie Woll

Light-Wave is a collaboration between Professor Bencie Woll (DCAL), Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq (Artist) and the east London deaf community.

East London’s deaf Community is a long-established, constituent part of East London life. However, the community has invariably been underrepresented or wholly unrepresented in cultural discourses. Our project aspires to facilitate a creative collaboration between us and local deaf people which affords recognition to the east London Deaf community’s history, culture and language, thereby creating an artistic and academic legacy and tangible symbol of the community’s richness and resilience.
Our research has involved multiple facilitated group discussions with deaf community members where we have explored themes such as:

  • The historical development of the community and sites of deaf historical significance in the area.
  • Sign Language development and use in East London, and its relationship to the wider corpus of British Sign Language (BSL)
  • Community diversity, and faith-community influences on development and use of sign language, and technological influences
  • Ideas for co-creation of artwork.

Our discussion groups were drawn to the theme of cartographic representation, where east London locations that have deaf cultural and historical significance could be ‘mapped’ in a mosaic style using imagery of Sign Language specific to the area. 

Covid meant that all discussions have taken place remotely. By this happy ‘accident’ the myriad of creative possibilities of digital video platforms became increasingly apparent to us. Sign Languages are uniquely visuo-spatial and kinetic in nature, and digital platforms such as Zoom can enable co-creation where the sign language and the deaf people themselves can move to the heart of the creative process in a uniquely innovative way.

Importantly use of digital video technology enables recording of discussions and sign language in a format which can be incorporated into DCAL’s BSL Corpus to become an invaluable linguistic research resource.

Light Wave references Deaf culture, when Deaf people gather together they wave hands and flash lights to gain attention, and this project is endeavouring to bring wider attention and visibility to the east London deaf community's presence.

The film created by the collaborators will be shared when it is complete.

Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq

Rubbena is a London-based artist and facilitator whose work concerns culture, deaf identity and, as a deaf woman of Pakistani heritage, the multi-faceted nature of being a ‘minority within a minority’. Through painting and installations, she creates visual representations of language and emotional expression through her use of colour and form. Rubbena has exhibited widely nationally and internationally and has featured several times on national TV. Recent commissions have included work for the ITV ‘Create’ series broadcast in 2019, and being Lead Artist for ‘Translating the Deaf Self’, a joint academic and artistic project exploring deaf peoples’ lived experience of being represented through translation. 

Bencie Woll

I have been involved in sign language research for nearly 40 years, and have been at UCL since 2005, founding the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre in 2006. My research and teaching interests embrace a wide range of topics related to sign language, including the linguistics of British Sign Language (BSL), the history and sociolinguistics of BSL and the Deaf community, sign language and the brain, and automated translation of BSL. In 2012 I was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 2016 as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Artist Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq signing.

Trellis 1 projects: 

Trellis 1 began in December 2018 when UCL invited a group of artists and researchers from disciplines linked to EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) priority areas to a matchmaking event. You can read more about this event on our Public Engagement blog. From this, nine artist:researcher partnerships were awarded £2,000 to develop collaborative ideas, and the above four partnerships were commissioned in May 2019 to take part in a public exhibition in October 2019 on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Artemis of the Lea, Amanda Lwin and Dr. Tse-Hui Teh with Dr. Lena Ciric 

A multi-breasted riverine goddess, Artemis of the Lea is festooned with brightly coloured, curvaceous vessels. This sculptural installation combines hard-edged lines with voluptuous forms, and recalls the muscular yet feminine strength of ancient fertility deities. The installation’s pendulous jugs have been designed to function as both watering cans and portable urinals.

Through summer 2019, allotmenteers in East London experimented with urine to boost their veg. When topped up with water, urine is an excellent nitrogen-rich fertiliser – seven times more potent than manure. At the exhibition’s end, these vessels will be distributed for ongoing use as they continue to nourish their crops with home-made fertiliser.

Water networks are often thought of as the infrastructure of supply and sewerage, yet solutions can operate from the scale of the individual to that of the landscape. This project resurrects connections with the environment, celebrates water infrastructure and elevates human bodily waste as a natural and precious resource.

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Dr. Tse-Hui Teh is a Lecturer in the Bartlett School of Planning. Her research concerns how water and sanitation infrastructures can become more sustainable, using a collective coevolution of actant trajectories (CCAT) framework. She also explores how public participation can change urban infrastructure.
Amanda Lwin (b. 1982, London) is a British-Burmese artist based in East London, whose practice charts the interfaces between landscapes, cities, buildings and people. Her work attempts to reveal how invisible or intangible systems, infrastructure and ways of thinking underlie our everyday lives, and is informed by an array of psychogeographic, anthropological and mythological sources.
Dr. Lena Ciric is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. Her research expertise lies in the application of molecular biology techniques to the profiling of microbial communities in various environments. She leads the Healthy Infrastructure Research Group at UCL CEGE.

woman walks past cylindrical structure from which hand multicoloured jugs. She is on the bank of a river and walking towards a bridge.

Artemis of the Lea, 2019. Commissioned by UCL Culture and UCL East © Amanda Lwin and Tse-Hui Teh. Photo © Matt Clayton

Beyond Sight Within Grasp (Red, Yellow and Blue), David Rickard and Prof. Tony Kenyon in collaboration with Beyond Sight Loss

Nanotechnology refers to the manipulation of matter at the scale between 1 - 100 nanometres, a size significantly smaller than the wavelength of light, which ranges from 400nm for blue light up to 700nm for red light. Therefore, it is literally impossible to see matter at nanoscale with any optical microscope. Instead, scientists have developed tools such as the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) which gently hovers above, touches or taps a surface to generate an image. These methods engaged by scientists have interesting parallels with the way visually impaired people build up a picture of their environment, from a tapping cane within public spaces to touching Braille on the pages of a book.

For Trellis we studied mirror polished copper surfaces at a scale equal to the wavelengths of red, yellow and blue light. At these scales rich landscapes are revealed within the smooth surface and with the help of visually impaired collaborators a new public sculpture has been developed. It inverts the visual dominance typically found within public art by engaging touch as a primary mode of sensory perception during production and reception.

David and Tony have been working with Beyond Sight Loss and would like to particularly thank David Johnston, Rais Ali, Ikram Chohan, Dickin Bowling, Shahid Latif, Bride McDonagh and Malik.

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David Rickard

(1975) is a New Zealand artist based in London, UK. His original studies in architecture have had a lasting impact on his art practice, embedding queries of material and spatial perception deep into his work. Through research and experimentation his works attempt to understand how we arrived at our current perception of the physical world and how far our perception is from what we call reality.

Prof Tony Kenyon is Professor of Nanoelectronic & Nanophotonic Materials, and Vice Dean (Research), heading the Nanoelectronic & Nanophotonic Materials group. His group’s work focuses on the application of nanostructured materials to nanoelectronics and photonics. He is particularly interested in resistance switching devices (memristors) based on oxides (mainly silicon oxides, but other CMOS-compatible oxides as well), and how they can be used in novel non-volatile memories, hardware acceleration for Machine Learning, and neuromorphic devices and systems.

Copper sculpture with undulating surface, in front of red and black wall

Beyond Sight Within Grasp (Red, Yellow and Blue), 2019. Commissioned by UCL Culture and UCL East © David Rickard and Prof. Tony Kenyon in collaboration with Beyond Sight Loss. Photo © Matt Clayton

Point Patterns, Alison Turnbull and Dr Elsa Arcaute with Hugo Glendinning

Point Patterns results from the encounter between a mathematical analysis of the street network of London and the creative disciplines of drawing and dance. It arose out of conversations between visual artist Alison Turnbull and theoretical physicist Dr Elsa Arcaute. They investigated fractal patterns, mapping and colour-coding in urban systems and in drawing.

Central to Point Patterns is a multi-layered film made in collaboration with Hugo Glendinning. The film explores movement, in the drawings generated by research data and maps of East London, in the sounds and patterns created by dancers in the studio, and in the rhythms of the city itself.

Related works on paper were shown alongside the film. Meticulous, scrolllike drawings transcribe data from the street network and small drawings on graph paper consider the idea of the city as a fractal structure.

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Alison Turnbull is a visual artist, working with painting, drawing and architecture. Based in London, she is represented by Matt’s Gallery.

Dr Elsa Arcaute is a theoretical physicist and dancer. She is Associate Professor at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL.

Hugo Glendinning is a photographer and filmmaker. He has worked with many leading British theatre and dance companies.

two landscape picture frames on a while wall. inside are abstract maps made of dots and lines in red and yellow

Point Patterns, 2019. Commissioned by UCL Culture and UCL East © Alison Turnbull and Dr Elsa Arcaute with Hugo Glendinning. Photo © Matt Clayton

No Smell, No Dirt, No Trouble*, Lucy Harrison and Efstathia Kostopoulou

*Advertising slogan, Carless Capel and Leonard petrol manufacturers, Hackney Wick

The project includes a series of interventions, drawing on archive research carried out by Lucy Harrison and Efstathia Kostopoulou, looking at industries that were previously on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park site.

Focussing on paint, sweet and jam factories, they have juxtaposed the recipes, formulas, colours and tastes of the products along with the plants that are currently in the park. Using promotional material, images and oral history interviews from these businesses found in joint research, Lucy has produced a sound piece, booklet and vinyl window piece. A film made in the current location of a print finishers that was once on the Olympic Park, and which was photographed by Lucy as it was being demolished in 2007, is installed in the café.

During the Trellis exhibition Lucy and Efstathia ran workshops with the artist Clare Qualmann and the community herbalist Rasheeqa Ahmad to explore foraged jam and historical uses of the plants and flowers now on the site.

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Lucy Harrison’s work takes the form of installations, films, audio and books. Her projects are often collaborative and involve the participation of people who live or work in the places where they take place, exploring how the history of a place often resonates in the present day in unconscious ways.

Efstathia Kostopoulou is a Doctoral Researcher at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Her work spans across urban design and heritage to media architecture and the publics. Her current research looks into affective digital and physical experiences that relate public spaces to local memory and culture.

Partnerships: We would like to thank local historians Peter Williams and Mark Gorman, Hackney Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, University of East London Archives and Newham Archives and Local Studies Library for their support. Thanks also to artist Clare Qualmann and the community herbalist Rasheeqa Ahmad for the workshops.

two image side by side. On left, bright red booklets on rack saying 'let there be colour'. On right, multicoloured text on glass in front of orange and green leaves. Text is names of colours.

No Smell, No Dirt, No Trouble*, 2019. Commissioned by UCL Culture and UCL East © Lucy Harrison and Efstathia Kostopoulou. Photo © Matt Clayton




Watch a playlist of videos about the Trellis project:

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Curation and production management provided by Rosie Murdoch.


If you want more information, you can get in touch.

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