Elaine Shemilt discusses the power of art and science

Elaine Shemilt

The School of Visual Communication recently had the privilege of hosting international artist, researcher and academic, Professor Elaine Shemilt who visited the University from Dundee to talk to students about her artistic relationship with science, and to give them an alternative perspective on their creative practice.

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Elaine’s artistic practice involves sculpture, installation, print making, video and digital media. She is renowned for her innovation in the use of printmaking and her collaborative work with scientists.

Elaine began her talk by showing a series of her images that represent and communicate scientific information in the visual language. The visualisations created by Shemilt make scientific images interpretable without accompanying context or description.  

Elaine discussed a variety of her collaborative projects where she had worked with various scientists, challenging her to make sense of issues in a visual context. Students were shown how Elaine creates an abstract representation of an invisible layer of society; visualising the invisible.

Shemilt’s passion for collaboration was extremely apparent throughout her afternoon visit. She talked about the power of artists and scientists working together and backed this up with details of a scientific breakthrough occurring as a result of her visual representation of scientific data that identified a gap in the pattern.

The remaining part of the talk was left open for a debate and discussion where Elaine gave her opinion on artistic education encouraging collaborative working;

"We need to break down the barriers. Universities are good for that as you can move around a lot more and there are collaborative options. It is the meeting of minds where extraordinary things happen."

Elaine passionately told the students about their power as artists and how they can use their skills and creativity to make the world a better place.

First year BA (Hons) Illustration student, Arthur Kearns, finds guest lectures really important, especially in the early stages of his artistic journey:

Illustration tutor, Joanne Berry-Frith commented on the visit, “Art, science and technology converge in the exceptional work of Elaine Shemilt. It was a privilege and a pleasure to listen to her speak about the positive role of the artist as an activist and an interpreter of complex scientific information, especially as the work she creates has global reach.”

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