UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Artist to explore hidden history of the site of UCL’s new neuroscience facility

10 December 2020

Artist Freya Gabie has been appointed to create a series of artworks for UCL’s state-of-the-art neuroscience facility currently under construction on Grays Inn Road.

pavel's journey

Freya, who studied sculpture at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art, works across a range of media, with a particular focus on drawing out secret histories and social narratives manifest within objects and places.

Her interest in delving beneath the surface to expose hidden layers through her work is well-suited to the site’s location on the historic subterranean River Fleet, the waters of which were believed to have health giving properties. As well as researching the waterways beneath the site, Freya plans to explore the relationship between archaeological and neurological techniques, such as ultrasound, to ‘see’ below the surface. 

Freya will collaborate with academics and clinicians from the three bodies that will be housed in the new building: the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology (IoN), the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN).

Construction began earlier this year on the 17,500m² state-of-the-art new building, which will bring together research scientists, clinicians and patients to create a world-leading hub for dementia and neurological disease research and treatment.

romantic gesture

'Romantic Gesture' by Freya Gabie. A site specific intervention at Franconia Sculpture Park where a tree was buried back into the landscape it had grown out of. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, USA.

The artwork programme at Grays Inn Road, led by UCL Culture, will form a key part of the site strategy’s ambition to unify patients, UCL’s academic and research communities and the wider communities around the site.

Freya said: “I am over the moon to have been selected to create a site history commission for UCL's new neuroscience centre. I love working in context to place; scratch the surface, dig a little, and a repository will open up of the previous lives lived and connected to this ground, layers of time like rock strata, bubbling with stories, intentions, beliefs and struggles, each building on, replacing or reframing what went before. 
“The future of this site, as a centre for ground-breaking neurological research, will also seek to map unknown landscapes, exposing the hidden and unseen. I'm really looking forward to engaging with the work of IoN, the UK DRI and NHNN, responding to their research approaches within the work I create.”
Sam Wilkinson, Head of Public Art at UCL, said: "We are thrilled that Freya will be working with us over the next few years. The depth of research that Freya carries out in developing her work reflects our ambitions for the art programme at Grays Inn Road. Working in a diversity of media, Freya will undoubtedly bring the unexpected, unearth hidden histories and generate intriguing dialogues with our academics and community partners.  With collaboration at the heart of the art programme, Freya is an artist we are fortunate to be working with."

Professor Michael Hanna, Director of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, said:  “We very much look forward to working with Freya, and seeing how our research will intersect with the themes she plans to explore. It will be fascinating to learn about the site’s hidden history and understand some of the parallels between Freya’s work and our research techniques. The public art programme at Grays Inn Road will enrich the experience of all those who work and visit the building, including patients and carers alongside our clinical staff and scientists.”


Main image:

‘Pavel’s Journey’ by Freya Gabie.