Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences


SURGE SciArt: A foray into the world of art

10 January 2022

still from SURGE OpUS project

WEISS is at the starting point of the second round of “Surge” its collaboration with the University of the Arts London, and we continue to explore using the arts as a medium of engagement in our Tower Hamlets based project “In Theatre”. With this in mind we asked WEISS researcher and award-winning engager Richard Colchester to share some of his experiences working with artists in this blog post.

You can express an interest in taking part in Surge 2 or some of our other arts collaborations by filling in this form.

At the beginning of the pandemic there was the opportunity to be involved in an artist/researcher matchmaking event – the start of the SURGE project. I jumped at the opportunity and was lucky with where it led. The matchmaking event led to chats, coffee talks and meetings with artists, all of whom are a pleasure to interact with. The project was worth it, even just for these interactions, as discussing our different interests and work has opened my eyes to new / different ways of seeing and interpreting, not only my work, but my approach to other things. My advice to others - take every opportunity you get like this and keep your mind open.

Fortunately for me coffee and meetings wasn’t the end of it, I was lucky enough to not only have a submission accepted (with the fantastic Priya Odedra) but to also make friendships that have continued with other projects. Priya and I wanted to create an experience that involved the audience, bringing together the public and researchers. We did this through a virtual experience (quickly adapted from an in-person experience due to the pandemic), surveys, and video responses from researchers we recruited. Karoline Winzer joined the team to help develop our virtual experience and everything came together smoothly. It was a whirlwind of new, diverse, interesting and fun experiences. It has been a humbling and joyful journey.

The outcomes were incredible, the best ones being authentic and rewarding relationships that will last. For me the foray continues, it is now a passion and a joy of mine.

My advice to others:

  1. Respect – everyone is equal – your work is no more important than others, just different
  2. Art is not publicity – it’s an interpretation – you are part of a starting point for a journey that might culminate in something great
  3. Be open minded – talk and listen – learn from the process of others and gain a new viewpoint
  4. Have conversations – enjoy it – be authentic and hopefully you’ll make not just connections, but friends.

Still from the Opus digital experience, an interactive online artwork created by Karoline Winzer with Priya Odedra and Richard Colchester as part of the Surge project.


Take a look at the Opus virtual experience here.

You can watch some of the short videos created as part of Richard's project on our YouTube channel. 

Watch the SURGE online gallery launch here.