Light Night Science and Art Platform

This is a Leeds Light Night event, which arose from a collaboration between Deborah Gardner and Anke Bruning-Richardson organised by the Soapbox: Science & Art Platform (Zoological Society of London and University of Leeds). They found, during discussions on their research areas, they share interests in ideas of cellularity, multiplicity, propagation, and migration as well as a consideration of correlations between the micro and the macro, from the cosmos to the interior body. In their first public engagement event during Leeds Light Night 2017, Deborah made sculptures with neon helium balloons as a means of testing to what extent art works can operate as working tools, which may cultivate insight and understanding of biological sciences and cell migration as a response to Dr Anke Bruning-Richardson’s most recent research activity in advancing our knowledge of cancer biology and her current project ‘ Targeting glioma migration’.


In the project Interweave, Deborah Gardner was commissioned as part of an Arts Council funded yearlong artistic programme to reflect, through a body of drawing, on the effects of arthritis on hands.  The research began through Deborah’s attendance at the PPI group steering committee meeting at the Leeds Biomedical Research Centre and an Ask the Researcher event, where studies were made of patients’ hands.  The drawing Together is a recognition of the support patients and members of the group give one another and the empowerment and knowledge such events can give.  Further research involved studies of pigmented microscopic images of cellular structures and the finger like protrusions of thickening synovial fluid in the body’s joints, causing swelling and inflammation.  Underpinning these concerns was a consideration of the increased risk for textile workers to develop arthritis, an examination of weave patterns and an acknowledgement of the considerable contribution of worker’s hands in the preparation of worsted yarn for weaving at what was Moorside Mills, now Bradford Industrial Museum, where the drawings were exhibited for six months in 2017. The drawings are on permanent display at Leeds Biomedical Research Centre.

Textures of Place

Textures of Place was a two-person exhibition at the Galeria Strefa Erasmusa, Lodz, Poland with sculpture by Deborah Gardner and paintings and film by Andrea Thoma. The intention was to explore juxtapositions of visual idioms to reflect on the immediacy and distance of place. The work journeys to both imaginary and physical places, from the micro to the macro world. Textures range from the surface of water to the magnified image of the cratered surface of the far side of the moon and from the dizzying views of high-rise architecture to the miniaturised construction of a Yorkshire textile industrial landscape. The body of sculptures included structures influenced by ideas of accumulation, propagation and networks, which reference everyday objects and scales from the cellular to the cosmic.

Of Plants and Planets

6 Sep – 28 Sep 2017

This body of work formed a correspondence with paintings by Andrea Thoma, titled Of Plants and Planets. It was part of the large group exhibition In the Open at Sheffield Institute of the Arts, which centred on ideas of place, landscape and environment and complemented the conference: Cross, Multi, Inter, Trans: Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, U.K. and Ireland Biennial Conference 2017 in association with LAND2. This work explored modes of assemblage, such as cellularity, instability and interaction, the shifting environments of the local and the alien and imaginary considerations of plants in space and a lunar crater named after a botanist.