Inspired by... blog

5 posts categorized "Science"

18 April 2013

Science and art: Abigail Lingford's Anthropoid Clothing

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My latest interview comes from Abigail Lingford of Anthropoid Clothing. Abi's realistic illustrations are what caught my eye when she entered the Spring Festival's Spring Market competition and we were very glad to have her on the day at our market. Abi's background in scientific illustration shows just how broad the range of creative people using the Library actually is, for both our extensive collections and the Business & IP Centre.


Could you tell us a little about Anthropoid Clothing? 

Anthropoid Clothing came about when I returned to London, after several years of living and working in Greece for an environmental NGO called Archipelagos. There I had been working as a scientific illustrator, working with scientists to produce accurate species and ecosystem illustrations. Upon returning I wanted to do something a little more creative, while still utilising my illustration skills and scientific knowledge. The idea is to work with the customer to produce a unique item of hand painted clothing that reflects their interests.

Abigail Lingford3

How did you first get interested in natural history and wildlife? 

I've always been utterly fascinated by the natural world, especially underwater ecosystems. There are so many incredible species lurking about, waiting to be discovered and I find it incredible how alien it all still is to us, with ecosystems thriving completely removed from our own ecological systems. I find the narrative of scientific discovery and animal behaviour and ecology very interesting and am an avid watcher of all David Attenborough's programmes! I have also recently discover the American podcast Radiolab, which features fantastic science storytelling.


When/how did you realise you could merge your two interests; art and wildlife?

Growing up in London I have always been aware of work produced through collaborations between artists and scientists, particularly exhibitions organised by the Wellcome Trust. I have been able to develop my interest in both art and science visiting the extensive range of museums and galleries that London has to offer.

It wasn't until I was searching for university courses, however, that I discovered that I could study Scientific and Natural History Illustration. It was a fascinating course with modules on ecology, conservation, biology and technical painting and drawing techniques. the course allowed me to explore scientific and zoological theories and develop an artistic or illustrative response to these theories. Sadly this course, as I studied it, no longer exists.

Abigail Lingford1

How has the Library influenced/helped you? 

The library has proved an invaluable resource from its remarkable and extensive collections to the events and resources provided by the Business & IP centre. I have attended talks and events and was able to meet other business owners as well as experts in various fields.


Do you have any advice for other illustrators that are looking to commercialise their work?

I think the best advice would be to think laterally. There are so many exciting opportunities for illustrators as markets change and also with the advent of new technologies. I am currently working on designs for shoes, packaging designs and on an ebook! There are so many opportunities to be creative. You just have to find your niche.

12 March 2013

Encounters between Art and Science

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Much to our delight, creativity has been invading the Library as of late. Our latest creative enterprise comes from the Art and Science MA students at Central Saint Martins. They have teamed up with the Science Technology and Medicine team here at the Library to create an exhibition called Encounters between Art and Science, which showcases the inter-disciplinary nature of the Library and how art and science, two stereotypically opposing forces, are in fact completely at ease with one another and enhance each other.
Art and science
The artwork is displayed around the Library and incorporates inspiration from our collections, such as maps and philately, as well as Library visitors’ opinions. They pieces range from sculptures to audio to sensual and more, crossing all mediums, portraying the wide range of resources that we have here. Scientific information resides not just in scientific literature, but also in maps, photographs, stamps, sound recordings and even people.
I don’t think I could pick one favourite item in the exhibition, but two of them that really stood out to me were Becky Lyddon’s See What I’m Saying and Luke Franklin’s and Liz Hainsworth’s I Need Some Advice.

A close call

Becky’s print and audio installation is tucked away in a corner on the first floor and focuses on the way idioms are understood by autistic people. For example, one girl, when she hears a phone ringing nearby, calls it a “close call”, using the literal meaning of the phrase, rather than the figurative one, which has come to be the norm.

A close call2

Luke’s and Liz’s patchwork quilt hangs on the first floor. Each patch has a different piece of advice or pearl of wisdom given to the makers by Library users. Some are a bit more cryptic than others, but almost all of them are recognisable. I think my favourite patch says “An artist is never poor” – something to bare in mind for all us creatives out there!

You can pick up a map of the exhibition from the information desk in the lobby of the Library and work your way round at your own pace. The exhibition will only be on show until 24 March 13 and is part of the Library’s Inspiring Science season of events and activities.

31 October 2012

Inspired by skulls and skeletons

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As it's Halloween, I couldn't resist trawling through our Images Online website for some anatomical drawings. At our Spring Market last year, Pheobe Richardson, a very talented graphic designer and product designer showcased her fine bone china range inspired by 19th century medical engravings. I think she would like some of these...

  Anatomical drawings 1

Anatomical drawings 2

Anatomical drawings 3

Anatomical drawings 4

Anatomical drawings 5

Anatomical drawings 6

Anatomical drawings 7

Anatomical drawings 8

inspired by 19th century medical engravings

19 October 2012

Enter our short film competition on wildlife sounds with IdeasTap

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This week we have launched our amazing Sound edit: Wildlife competition with IdeasTap at the London Film Festival. The competition is open to filmmakers, animators and photographers and there is a cash prize, a screening opportunity at the Library as part of our Spring Festival and lots of press and marketing support. The deadline is 30 November 2012.

Here is the brief:

Calling filmmakers, photographers and animators!

We are offering you the exclusive opportunity to write a treatment for a film or multimedia photostory, working with a selection of rare wildlife sounds from the British Library Sound Collection – with cash prizes for the best project ideas.

All is not what it seems in the world of wildlife sounds. Out of context, a haddock under water sounds like a snare drum, an American bullfrog sounds like vibrating wires and bats sound like human beatboxers.

From the spooky, paranoid and intense to the relaxing and rhythmic, wildlife sounds conjure up a range of emotional responses. What was originally a mating call or the sound of hooves suddenly takes on a different meaning when you listen to it out of context, or in an urban setting.

Unlike with other film or multimedia competitions, your starting point is the sound. We want you to use your imagination: you can play with the sounds, speed them up, slow them down, layer them with other sounds and make them your own, coming up with the treatment for a film or multimedia photostory inspired by and using them.

A shortlist of 10 IdeasTap members will be awarded £500 each to create their film. The final 10 films or multimedia photostories will go before a panel of industry experts, who will select one overall winner to receive £1,000 and a screening at the British Library Spring Festival.

Due to funding for this project, it is open to UK-based IdeasTap members aged 16-30.

If you're not sure where to begin, read some helpful pointers from filmmaker, photographer and Ideas Fund Shorts winner Munir Malik.

You can download the sounds and find out more on the IdeasTap website

17 September 2012

Art + Science with Johanna Kieniewicz

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I interviewed Johanna, our Engagement Manager for Environmental Sciences at the British Library, on her  passion for art and science…

What is it about the topic of art and science that appeals to you, and what made you want to start your own blog?

Well, to start with, I have a background in both areas, and it seems to run in the family. My grandmother actually specialised in scientific illustration, drawing pathogens through microscopes before photomicrographs were more commonplace. But I think that my real interest in this area was borne of a frustration about the culture of science, and its public perception as cold, masculine and uncreative. I’ve always been friends with really creative people, many of whom were scientists or artists who found science interesting. I hate that we have to label ourselves as one thing or another—and this is manifested in our education system where students are put on an ‘arts and humanities’ track or a ‘STEM’ track, which I think is unfortunate.

One of the great artists of all time, Leonardo Da Vinci, was also one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known. I think it would be nice to see some level of (re)convergence of these two areas, even if we can’t all aspire to Da Vinci’s levels of genius! The interface of science and art is an area that’s still wide open at the moment, where there are lots of opportunities and potential for some really exciting, original thinking.

And I’m not just talking about pretty scientific images — I’m talking about real art in its own right that is engaging with science, commenting on science, challenging the way we interpret our world. And for me, my blog allows me engage in this dialogue around art while still having a day job in science.

What projects are you really excited about at the moment?

There are a couple of things that come to mind…

Artists in Residence: Here, we are talking about artists embedded at scientific institutes, talking to scientists, learning about what they do, and reinterpreting this through their art. This is becoming more common, and I think that is really exciting. For example, the Environment Institute at UCL has an artist-in-residence programme, as does CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collidor and Higgs-Boson particle discovery. More enlightened scientific institutions are coming to terms with the fact that there is something to be gained by engaging with art, and are hopefully paving the way for more.

An Art and Science MA Programme: Some brave and wonderful folks have started up an Art and Science MA programme at Central St Martins. It’s the first of its kind in the world, is two years long, and allows students to get a grounding in various areas of science and philosophy, visit and work with scientific institutions, and explore scientific ideas through their art. The students currently enrolled on the course come from a wide range of backgrounds in addition to art, such as linguistics, anthropology and biology. They are a fantastic bunch of people, and although they’ve only finished their first year, I really can’t wait to see their first degree show next year!

Lastly, which other blogs do you like on the topic of art and science?

Er…. For somebody who keeps their own blog, I do a really terrible job of reading other people’s! But the New Scientist Culture Lab is one that I regularly follow. Nicola Triscott, Director of the Arts Catalyst, also has a good one. However, if you have an interest in this area and anywhere near London, I’d strongly recommend you check out exhibitions at the GV Art Gallery, which specialises in art engaging with science and also has an excellent programme of events.

You can also read Johanna's blog on art and science at