• Becca, Learning Wayfinder

shining a light on engagement

Art and Science on a postcard event

Becca went along to ASCUS lab, a real working science lab for the public as an education scientist and was teamed up with light artist Chloe Salvi. We inspired each other and created sci-art to be exhibited at Creative Reactions' pop up sci-art exhibition on May 12th!!

The event was a collaboration between:

  • ASCUS, a non-profit organisation 'dedicated to building a community of artists, scientists, and other individuals interested in how art and science can engage new and wider audiences for both fields. ASCUS is neither an arts nor a scientific body, but an organisation dedicated to developing art-science intersection'

  • Pint of Science 'an annual science festival that takes place every May and brings researchers to your local pub to present their scientific discoveries' in 32 cities across the UK;

  • Intersci, a University of Edinburgh postgrad EUSA group: 'We believe the best scientific innovations come from interdisciplinary work. We aim to encourage conversation and collaboration between scientists of different disciplines and members of the public.' Check out their fortnightly ChatSci events.

First up: Chloe. She showed me her work - made from particles suspended in resin:

Then, she wanted to find out from me all about archaeology and heritage. From our chat, she came up with the idea of a Treasure Trove of the people, using rubbish she literally went out and collected from the street during the session (see below). This was such a rich seam of discussion and artsci collaboration that I go into greater detail on our sister site, Archaeology Learn (https://scottishlearn.wixsite.com/archaeologylearn)

Chloe Salvi's artsci postcard work in progress

Next up, my turn. I was there to discuss the learning and engagement. What processes can art show us about engagement? Chloe started off by explaining:

Chloe explained how contemporary art is processed based

I was excited to see that there are real links between how I see learning and contemporary are: something that is cross-disciplinary, is about making a collection (isn't that what are resources are?) and works with people in the time/place 'where they are at'.

And now the biggie - this is the super exciting thing I learned. I asked Chloe how she creates engagement and she explained how she literally uses light to take an object and make it more interesting.

Once you give someone a light, they experiment with the object, move it this way and that...

Chloe found that creating layers of resin created even greater engagement with her work. Here she is shining her phone camera onto plastic suspended in layers of resin

A revelation! That was me off. I created a two artsci postcard to show this process:

1. a flat 2D picture

Becca's 2D drawing of a rose

2. a 3D version of the same idea:

Becca's 3D rose made by rolling up foam and sticking it through a hole in the postcard. A phone camera light shining on it makes interesting shadows

3. words on a transparent surface (acetate) become art when you shine a light through them!! Here I am getting set up and then shining a light:

There! Suddenly the flower is a lot more interesting! I took this engagement lesson and made the process my artwork, not the postcards or acetate by themselves, by having the photos printed (thanks to ASCUS), cutting out pictures of each stage and glueing these onto a final postcard. The Creative Reactions exhibition is about art and science on a postcard, after all! Here is my finished artwork:

'Making learning interactive activated and engaging' by Becca Boyde

I hope you've enjoyed this little demo into light and engagement. I'm off to join Intersci for 5 pounds and get ready to tell my workmates all about this experience when I see them tomorrow!

-Becca Boyde, Learning Wayfinder


We are the people who are 'on the ground' in learning and engagement in Scotland. We come from a whole bunch of settings, from zoology to mental health, and provide learning programmes and resources for learning in all its guises.

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