Microbes as Material Workshop

Exploring Artistic Practice using Microbiological Systems
Workshop, Lancaster University, 25th & 26th March, 2015
Artist Application Deadline Fri 27 Feb 2015

The Biomedical and Life Sciences (BLS) Division at Lancaster University is opening its doors to artists who want to explore the theory and practice of microbiological processes. This is a unique opportunity for five UK artists to experience hands-on work in the microbiology research labs during a two day workshop. The workshop is produced in partnership with the Insight research group, Live@LICA and Abandon Normal Devices, and is funded by The Society for General Microbiology.

The aim of the workshop is to bring artists and scientists together as equal partners with a view to developing new hybrid projects and proposals in the arts and to explore the idea of the science lab as an artists studio. We will be exploring several themes; Linguistic communication and social intelligence of bacteria; selective growth and killing; performativity in the microbiology research lab. We are keen to explore how artists and scientists understand the materials they work with through practical actions and conceptual framing of the scientific process.

The workshop will take place over two days in the BLS microbiology labs and in the Peter Scott gallery at Live@LICA. The format will involve hands-on ‘wetlab’ sessions learning basic microscopy, bacterial manipulation, how to count microbes, methods for investigating quorum sensing and antibiotic resistance detection. We will be examining the haptic skills of the microbiologist and the performance of aseptic technique. There will be a networking event to talk to staff and students about their work. Part of the second day will be spent transposing some of the ideas and techniques from the lab space into our gallery space where we will finish with a discussion about the nature of art-science collaborations.

Participants will include members of the BLS team at Lancaster who have international reputations in their specialist areas such as tropical diseases, ecology of microbes, viral diseases, microbiology of the antarctic, inflammatory bowel disease and insect microbe symbioses. Members are actively seeking collaborations with artists to further enhance their own practice and provide topics for future joint funded microbiology or biomedical themed projects.


The workshop is open to artists working in any artform who should have an established background in their respective fields and be able to demonstrate why they are interested in the workshop, and how it might benefit their practice. The artists will be expected to make their activity open to audiences online, for example via a blog, flickr or social media. The workshop is open to applications from artists working in any artform, locally and nationally within the UK, no previous experience in the biosciences is necessary.

– The workshop will run from 10:00 – 17.30 on 25 & 26 March 2015
– Participants must attend the whole workshop
– The cost of UK travel by train and accommodation on campus on the night of the 25 Mar will be covered for each participant.

Deadline for applications: Fri 27 Feb, 2015, 18:00
Successful applicants contacted: w/c 2 Mar
Workshop dates: 25 & 26 March, 10:00 – 17.30

Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YW

Apply by sending a 300 word statement detailing:
– Why you are interested in the workshop
– How the workshop will benefit your practice
Also include:
– Your CV (max 2 A4 pages)
– Links to examples of your previous work.

Applications should be submitted in PDF, WordDoc or RTF format by email to hello@andfestival.org.uk
Please contact r.dillon@lancaster.ac.uk if you have any further questions.

Download open call info in PDF format.


AND logo advert


Event info:

  • Wed 25th — Thu 26th Mar 2015
  • Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YW

Useful links