UCL East


New Trellis online exhibition in April 2021

22 March 2021

UCL East’s neighbours are at the core of a new exhibition opening this April, as the fascinating work of seven UCL researchers leaps straight from the campus and into the heart of the local community.

Artwork created by Jon Adams as part of the Flow Unlocked Trellis project

Funded by the research council for Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPSRC) and UCL East Public Art Programme, Trellis connects our world-class researchers with dynamic contemporary artists and local communities in east London, to foster a pioneering programme of knowledge exchange and facilitate co-creation of artworks near the site of UCL East. The resulting works are powerful, insightful, passionate and political, giving a voice to local people whose stories are rarely heard.

Trellis was conceived by Sam Wilkinson, Head of Public Art at UCL, Lizzy Baddeley, UCL EPSRC Project Manager and Curator Rosie Murdoch with Junna Begum, Trellis 2 Project Manager. The project’s unique tenet is the equitable, tri-party relationship between the groups of community participants, the east London artists and academic researchers from UCL. Each project has pushed the boundaries, to allow for each voice to be heard and contribute to the final artworks.

The Trellis 2 exhibition will be presented as a blended physical and virtual exhibition, due to the pandemic, supported with a dynamic line-up of live events. The works on show take the form of painting, drawing, installation, book arts, film and photography. The participating UCL researchers have taken an active role in creating the artworks going on display, all of which address diverse issues impacting local people.

  • Danielle Purkiss from Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, and Charnett Chau from Chemical Engineering, who both work in UCL’s Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, have been co-creating with artist Sarah Carne, and members of the Xenia women’s group. They have co-designed citizen science investigations into the issues of food waste and plastic waste, using these experiments to explore science-led art production, resulting in the creation of an artist’s book.
  • Professor Bencie Woll from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre has been collaborating with artist Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq and members of the east London Deaf community. Together they have examined the underrepresentation of the Deaf community in cultural discourse, with a focus on the community’s history, culture, and Sign Language development and use. They have been collaboratively exploring the potential of Zoom as a site of co-creation for Deaf people. During the exhibition they will premiere their artists’ film, which aims to bring wider attention and visibility to the community’s presence and narratives.
  • Dr David Chau from the Division of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Eastman Dental Institute, has been collaborating with artists Sara Heywood and Jane Watt, and members of the St Margaret’s House community. The team have considered the significance of heritage trees to local communities, and the scientific, cultural and artistic potential of the iconic mulberry tree. In April they will present a number of multimedia works, including an installation in the window of Create Space in Bethnal Green.
  • Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou from Psychology & Human Development and Psychology and Language Science has been collaborating with artists Briony Campbell and Jon Adams, and members of the autistic community. Together they have explored the importance of relationships for neurodiverse people, reflecting on the impact of distancing and mediated communications during the pandemic, from the perspective of lived experience. They will present works in the form of drawings, photography, film and text.
  • Dr Keren Weitzberg from UCL History has been collaborating with artist Edwin Mingard and members of the migrant and refugee community. Collectively they have looked at surveillance and asylum seeking in east London, the UK’s oppressive border regime, and the asymmetrical relationship between ‘identity’ and ‘identification’. Together they have been exposing the gulf between the narrow data-driven perspective of the Hostile Environment Policy and the rich cultural lives of migrants in east London. During the Trellis festival they will present an exclusive preview of their co-created film.

UCL Head of Public Art Sam Wilkinson, Project Manager Junna Begum, and Trellis Curator Rosie Murdoch oversaw an innovative approach to forming the creative partnerships seen in the exhibition, designing a form of ‘speed-dating’ for the artists and researchers to meet and discover instinctive synergies between their practices. The selected partnerships were shortlisted based on the centrality of the community at the heart of the proposed work.

Sam Wilkinson comments:

"We are thrilled by the energy and commitment of the teams working on Trellis, and the rich relationships that have emerged with the community partners. The public art programme for UCL East is strengthened by Trellis and the exhibition will reflect the endeavours of the teams."

Rosie Murdoch comments:

"The culmination of the five Trellis projects reflects the combined efforts of 7 artists, 6 academic researchers and 95 east Londoners who have taken part in a year-long project. They have all identified a shared language between artist, community and researcher, and we will share that experience through film, photography, performance and writing across the exhibition."

Professor Paola Lettieri, Director of UCL East, says:

"We are excited to see Trellis going from strength to strength over the years, and continuing despite the pandemic.

"It is always fascinating the see the creative work generated when artists, researchers and local communities come together to exchange knowledge and different perspectives. We look forward to seeing what each partnership has created during the festival."

Trellis takes places between 12-18 April in east London and online, with a fascinating programme of public events and activities, including a film preview, live conversations with local artists, and more. Everyone is welcome, please share this fantastic initiative with your networks.

Find out more and book your virtual seat to the events

Follow Trellis on Twitter at @UCLEngage for previews, updates and behind–the-scenes reveals.