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The University of Southampton

Making an art out of science at city exhibition

Published: 1 July 2005

Hundreds of tiny works of art, each one unique and all created using science-based materials such as fluorescent tissue dyes, Petri dishes and medical clamps, will be on display at a high-profile exhibition in Southampton from next week.

The artworks are the result of a creative partnership between an artist and cancer researchers at the University of Southampton. Pauline Pratt, artist in residence at the Cancer Research-UK Medical Oncology Unit, Cancer Sciences Division and Biomedical Imaging Unit at the University's School of Medicine, is taking part in the city's artvaults exhibition which opens on 9 July.

The exhibition, organized by arts organisation a space, takes place in eight previously inaccessible medieval sites in the vaults underneath the city. The vaults will feature works by nine artists which aim to enhance the historic beauty of the surroundings and surprise visitors.

Pauline's work Transcience will be on show in the Catch Cold Tower. In her work she has used the fluorescent histological dyes Eosin, Auramise and Phosphine, which are normally used by cancer science researchers to reveal cell structures that are impossible to see with the naked eye. The resulting artworks give an enthralling insight into the techniques and processes common in contemporary science.

Pauline says: "It's exciting to be taking part in the artvaults exhibition, particularly because it is a first opportunity to share the work that I have been doing as part of my residency at the University with a wider audience. For that reason, the exhibition is a milestone for the residency and everyone involved with it."

Pauline's 10-month residency is supported by the Leverhulme Trust. The aim is to explore the relationship between art and science and open up a dialogue between the artist and scientists. Pauline is working closely with Professor Tim Elliott of the Cancer Sciences Division and Dr Anton Page of the Biomedical Imaging Unit, learning cell culture techniques and how to use sophisticated research equipment such as electron and light microscopes to produce high-quality images of cells in culture. She is using both video and digital technology to create original artworks based on her involvement with researchers. The scientists, researchers and students in the Cancer Sciences Division are in turn benefiting from the different way she explores the workings of the human body. The residency will culminate in exhibitions in early 2006 at the Winchester Gallery and the New Greenham Arts Gallery near Newbury.

This year over 15, 000 visitors are expected to see the artvaults exhibition which opens to the public on Saturday 9 July and runs until Sunday 16 October. The exhibition will be open on Saturdays and Sundays only between 12 noon and 4pm.

Related Staff Member

Notes for editors

  1. Digital images of Pauline Pratt's artvaults installation are available from Media Relations on request. Images of all artvaults installations are available from a space from Monday 11 July.
  2. The Cancer Sciences Division in Southampton is an internationally-recognised centre of excellence for research into tumour immunology and its application in the clinic: in particular the development of cancer vaccines. In this respect, it is at the cutting edge of basic and applied biomedical research.
  3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has around 20,000 students and nearly 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £270 million.
  4. The Leverhulme Trust is the largest private funding organization in the UK, distributing funds of over £25 million every year. The Leverhulme Trust was established in 1925 under the will of the First Viscount Leverhulme with the instruction that it should support 'scholarships for education and research'. The Trust launched its artists in residence scheme in 2000. For more information visit
  5. The arts organization a space represents, encourages and supports the work of emerging artistic talents, helping to develop their careers by giving them platforms upon which to exhibit their work.
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