Science and Live Art: commissioned artist insight

At the start of next month (Saturday 1st March to be exact) Home Live Art will present an Alternative Village Fete which responds to theme of Storytime Science, as part of Royal Holloway University’s Science Festival.

Four of the Fete artists have been specially commissioned to develop their installation alongside the research departments at Royal Holloway University, and in our latest post we hear more about this process from commissioned artist Helen Schell.

Space Agency: From Invisible to Visible

This project will examine the current research projects of the Royal Holloway Physics department exploring the areas between invisible and visible matter. This will include extra spatial dimensions, Dark Matter & Energy, gravity and their work with CERN on the Large Hadron Collider. This is about the observation and understanding of the composition of the Universe……Now we see it, now we don’t.

Research documentation from Royal Holloway University.

Research documentation from Royal Holloway University


The total mass–energy of the known universe contains 4.9% ordinary matter (what we see), 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy (what we don’t see).

 In January I met with Professor Jocelyn Monroe (Dark Matter), Dr Stephen Gibson (Fundamental Physics & CERN), Dr Stewart Boogert (Accelerator Science – Particle Physics). I am also examining the work of Dr Tracey Berry (Extra Spatial Dimensions).

Research oocumentation from Royal Holloway University.

Research oocumentation from Royal Holloway University.

Through this ongoing collaboration, I am creating three large picture books using optical illusions and experimental construction techniques to interpret the information learnt from the physics department about Dark Matter, CERN (Large Hadron Collider – Particle Accelerators) and Extra Spatial Dimensions. The optical illusions and spatial distortions within the books will attempt to express the unknown phenomena of the structure of the Universe.

The end installation will take the form of a family workshop, where visitors will have the opportunity to use this information to create their own books and stories about the unknown phenomena of the UNIVERSE, either fact or fiction.

The stories that have inspired my installation include:

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, about Parallel Universes

The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells about optics and refractive index.

The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells playing with the dimension of time.

Helen Schell is a visual artist & educator who specialises in work about space exploration and the cosmos. She is also an ESERO-UK Space Ambassador (education wing of the European Space Agency). She is based at NewBridge Studios in Newcastle.