recent, relevant experience and achievements
This web page provides a summary of Stephen Bennett, Cat Drew and Olivia Bargman’s recent, relevant experience and achievements. This is to demonstrate the artistic quality of our work and past projects, to support our application for the Make It Happen: Cultural Activity Grant. This blog is invisible for anyone who does not have the URL.
Stephen Bennett is a multimedia artist who works in policy-making and science. After studying MA Art and Science at Central St Martins, Stephen has focused his practice on the relationship between evidence, emotions and political action. In parallel Stephen is prototyping the application of artistic practices in a UK policy-making context, working part-time for the Cabinet Office’s Policy Lab team where he regularly facilitates large workshops including with members of the public. Stephen has worked on a series of projects to use creative and artistic approaches in a professional context - three examples are described below. Stephen has recently summarised this work, including his work developing creative projects in Policy Lab, in an article on the Government’s website: https://openpolicy.blog.gov.uk/2018/10/10/a-role-for-art-in-policy-making/
Royal Society: Future of Research Culture
Stephen co-led a project to help the Royal Society visualise the future of research culture in the UK. The project created 11 artefacts from a speculative ‘Museum of the Extraordinary Objects, 2035’ to stimulate a conversation between hundreds of researchers over 12 events around the country on what research culture may look like in 2035. With his collaborator, Stephen built and led a team of 11 artists to execute the project; he helped project manage the delivery of the work; he co-curated an exhibition of the artworks at the launch of the Research Culture project at the Royal Society and then at a TEDx in January 2018. Finally Stephen and his collaborator interviewed Society staff and Fellows to evaluate the success of the project. More information on the project is available on the Royal Society’s website: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/research-culture/changing-expectations/museum-of-extraordinary-objects/ - Stephen has also co-written an article about the project for Sci-Art Magazine, available at https://www.sciartmagazine.com/the-museum-of-extraordinary-objects.html
The learnings that can be applied from the Royal Society project include:
Co-design was essential to the success of the project. Stephen facilitated discussions between the artists and the Royal Society to co-create ideas for the Museum’s ‘artefacts’. He then organised a process of iteration to improve the designs: first by working with artists to develop prototypes, showing these to the Society, and then helping the fellow artists incorporate feedback.
Objects, and more broadly the whole “making” process, opened up a completely different kind of discussion than would have been achieved using writing and talking. Stephen writes more about this in his article for SciArt Magazine.
20 Year Gap Installation with Nesta
Stephen produced a significant participatory art installation in response to a commission from Nesta to show the difference in health across the UK for Nesta’s FutureFest at Tobacco Dock in July 2018. Stephen collaborated with the Nesta team to produce an enormous hanging data visualisation of the difference in “Disability Free Life Expectancy” data across the UK. Stephen worked to a £3000 budget, over a four month period. He liaised closely with the festival organisers and logistical staff to plan in detail the installation of the artwork. Stephen created an interactive element to the artwork which allowed any of the 2000 viewers to contribute their ideas to the question “What would you do to close the 20 year gap?”. More information on the project is available on Nesta’s website: https://www.futurefest.org/experiences/20-year-gap
The learnings that can be applied from the Nesta project include:
A dramatic presentation of evidence and information is much more likely to result in audience engagement on what may otherwise have been considered a niche statistic
The installation included a key to match the hanging bottles with the 216 local areas across the UK (including Waltham Forest) they pertained to. Providing this link to people’s homes and communities significantly increased the participation of audience members.
Residency at cern particle collider, geneva
Between December 2016-May 2017 Stephen was a CSM resident artist at CERN particle collider in Geneva, and produced art work which has been exhibited in three galleries subsequently. Stephen first conducted immersive research at CERN. He interviewed scientists, joined lectures, participated in round-table discussions with senior scientists and gave presentations on his practice. Stephen identified a disconnect between the amazing developments at CERN and the ability of scientists to communicate their work effectively.
To resolve this, Stephen researched the material and visual environment of the laboratory site and created a photographic atlas of the surfaces and textures of CERN. He rendered the still images in a multitude of kaleidoscopes so people could have their own intimate experience of a scientific institution usually preserved for the scientific elite. He animated the images into a four minute film which seeks to capture the sense of wonder and awe of the amazing scientific developments taking at CERN. The resulting film Microscopic Macroscopic (see below) has been displayed in three galleries to date, most recently Visions of Science, at the Andrew Brownsword Gallery, Bath (Sept-Oct 2018), where the work was shortlisted for the University of Bath’s Visions of Science Art Prize 2018.
Cat Drew is a Director at Uscreates which is now part of the FutureGov family. Over the last 10 years, she has pioneered participatory and design-led approaches to policymaking and place-based change, combining 14 years in Government with an MA in graphic design. She is a visible thought leader, and co-presents BBC Radio 4’s The Fix, which brings people from different background together, uses design to tackle tricky social problems and shares the resulting insights with 7 million listeners.
She has led many community engagement projects commissioned by local councils, is an expert in identifying and working with hard-to-engage groups, and helped set up Dalston Bridge, a hyperlocal fundraising platform for responsible gentrification. Her graphic design website is here: https://cargocollective.com/catdrew
Cat’s work on Dalston Bridge started as a participatory design project using visual methods to first understand how local residents of Dalston were experiencing change, and to then develop ideas around responsible gentrification. Cat ran a series of visual stages:
Conducting a semiotic analysis into art and culture of old and new cafes
Asking 10 residents to take photos of things that made them feel included in and excluded from how the area was changing
Exhibiting those images alongside quotes from related interviews on a wall in a community square; inviting c.110 residents to mix and match them to create their own story of gentrification and respond with ideas
Turning the visual analysis into a series of zines (100 copies of each) about how the area was changing and exhibiting in a local gallery over a month, opening with a panel discussion for local people with c.70 in attendance.
The project website documenting the above is at: https://dalstonconnections.wordpress.com/. The project was self-funded as part of Cat’s MA in graphic design at the same time as she worked for the Government’s Policy Lab (where she first worked with Stephen).
Community engagement projects with local councils at Uscreates
For the last two years Cat has been a Director at Uscreates (the lead social design agency for health and wellbeing) which has now merged with FutureGov. Cat has directed many community engagement projects for local councils with budgets ranging from £10-150k, specialising in engaging with seldom heard groups, going to where people are, and taking a user-centred approach to motivating people to engage.
The learnings that can be applied experience in participatory, co-design work is:
Need for a clear value exchange to motivate people to take part (this could be about explaining what happens at the end, or it could be in making things fun and engaging in and of itself)
Need to go where people are - to cafes, markets, pubs, and when people are there - during the day, weekends etc - and spend time building trust. Different people will go to different places and want to engage in different ways.
Liv Bargman is an award winning illustrator, working and exhibiting internationally. Her recent MA probed illustration as a speculative tool to show us what can’t be seen with a microscope or the naked eye. A graduate from MA Art and Science (where she worked with Stephen), Liv researched mythical futures concerning the development of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance; more information available at: http://blogs.arts.ac.uk/csm/2018/05/16/show-one-liv-bargman/
Biodesign Challenge 2017, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
Liv won the Biodesign Challenge 2017 at MoMA, New York whilst studying at Central St Martins. Her winning project The Quantworm Mine probed the potentials of biology and design to create a more sustainable future. It was a successful course collaboration between Liv and Nina Cutler, who studied MA Material Futures. Liv has written about her experiences at: https://www.arts.ac.uk/stories/news?college=csm&news_id=22086
DUTCH DESIGN WEEK AND THE LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL
Liv continues to collaborate in the exciting field of biodesign. Liv is currently exhibiting at Dutch Design Week (see: https://www.ddw.nl/en/programme/226/united-matters) as a member of London based collective United Matters. Amongst 8 other designers, United Matters explores how we might live in the future by blurring the boundaries between craft, science and technology. Liv recently exhibited at The London Design Festival as part of Open Cell. Open Cell is a studio and biolab space for early stage startups and designers.
In her commercial work, Liv is a scribe/graphic facilitator. She helps clients to think, work and communicate in a visual world. By listening intelligently, Liv interprets what she hears into engaging imagery.
Liv’s illustration work is used in socially responsible contexts. She co-created, with the agency Design Science, a series of illustrated storyboards for workshops run by Nuffield Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford. The boards were designed to give a sense of how people with healthcare issues may feel about technologies they have been administered to help with their conditions. The illustrations were designed to introduce the workshop participants to Nuffield Health’s research in an accessible way.