Lives in Science: An Introduction

The aim of the Lives In Science project is to inspire an interest and appreciation of science and scientists in practice. I will be presenting the subject through a series of large narrative images and the personal stories behind them. The images will stand out for their educational content and for the stories they tell, and still remain as art works in their own right. Ultimately I want to encourage aspirations in young people of all backgrounds to be inquisitive, to embrace the unknown and feel that they are connected to art, science and learning.

Lives in Science will include a research period at the John Innes Centre alongside work in the studio. The series of images produced will depict various aspects of  scientific practice and each image will have its own colour base depending on its theme. The accompanying text for the images will be a vital part of the project, and will include quotes from the chosen subjects. The series of images will tell the story of why the subjects became scientists while illustrating their social and cultural diversity.

When I was at school I couldn’t really understand or relate to science. It wasn’t until recently that this changed when I met Joyce and Sir David Hopwood. Sir David is Emeritus Professor at the John Innes Centre and a pioneer in the research of the antibiotic-producing bacteria Streptomyces. He sat for a portrait for the I’m Not Dead Yet project when he talked with great zeal and clarity about his work. The language of science can be baffling to anyone unfamiliar with it, but Sir David’s passion for his field enabled me to gain a valuable insight into this world.

In 2014, the seeds of this project were sown when I was introduced to Darren Heavens (Senior Research Scientist at the John Innes Centre) who talked excitedly about a small piece of machinery in his laboratory. Once again I was inspired by how passionately he spoke about his work. He later revealed that this passion began as a boy when he had grown Fuchsia plants with his father, pollinating the flowers with paint brushes..


The John Innes Centre is an independent centre of excellence in microbiology and plant science. Originally a training school in advanced horticulture, the John Innes Horticultural Institution was founded in 1910 in South London,under the directorship of William Bateson. Following advances in genetics, a shift occurred in the institute’s focus and, in 1967, the renamed John Innes Centre moved to its present site on the outskirts of Norwich. Since then its cutting edge research has directly addressed many objectives of the BBSRC (British Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) in food security, human health and industrial biotechnology.

In order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the world renowned scientific institution, that is the John Innes Centre, an exhibition of Lives in Science will be held as part of the Norwich Science Festival 2017.

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