Colour & Poetry: launch of the UCL Materials Innovation Network

Slade Research Centre, School of Fine Art, UCL, 21st March 2019.

Colour & Poetry Symposium, Slade School of Fine Art, 2019

This was the launch of an inter-disciplinary network concerned with materials research and innovation across the arts and sciences. It was the closing session of a two day symposium on Colour and Poetry, with an accompanying exhibition ‘The Nomenclature of Colours’.

The Nomenclature of Colours, Slade School of Fine Art, 2019

The key message for me was to think about collaboration between the arts and sciences. The session was held in the Slade Research Centre, in the room where Ramsay had his lab and where he discovered the noble gases. Whilst collaboration is growing (the Slade has Scientist in Residence) and there are clear areas of common interest (this network focuses on materials) there remains a gap in conceptual frameworks, language and ways of working.

In my own work, I need to think more about surfaces, textures and colour (an interaction between the nature of the reflective/transmissive surface and the sensitivity of the viewer). Made me think about how I can better use the facilities at the Institute of Making, both in making artifacts and digitising objects. With the recent ‘digital turn’ in my work for this module, a core issue is the movement between the analogue and the digital, and the virtual and the material.

Wolf (2010), in a survey of the impact of new imaging technologies on the art of photography, states that:

‘digital technology calls upon us to rethink previous arguments or ideas about what a camera does and how photographic images function in contemporary culture. It allows us to consider reality as mutable, not fixed, and to think of space and time as fluid, not static’ (p.52)

For me, it is the dialogue between the analogue and the digital, and the virtual and the material, that will drive forward the development of the work, and create the space for collaboration. In the discussion, the role of the artist was seen as providing new ways of looking and making, about exploring and working with materials, doing and engaging rather than prescribing.


Wolf, S. 2010. The Digital Eye: Photographic Art in the Digital Age. Munich: Prestel Verlag.