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Discover Medical Mycology

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An exploratory residency for a female artist from any discipline over 4 weeks, working in the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at the University of Exeter

Fungi are unique. They are neither plants nor animals and are the world’s oldest living organisms. The various fungal species are diverse, with many unique properties: some innocuous, some useful, and some harmful. Their distinctions place this diverse group of organisms in their own kingdom: Kingdom Fungi.

A surprising amount remains unknown about these organisms, and many people are unaware that there is a microscopic kingdom of fungi living silently among us. Unlike other microbes that can infect humans – such as viruses and bacteria – fungi are some of the least studied, and least understood, yet they kill around 1.5 million people each year, worldwide. That is a higher annual death toll than from malaria.

At the Medical Research Council Centre for Medical Mycology (CMM) at the University of Exeter (UoE), we are using innovative research to tackle the silent global health threat posed by these microbes.

The CMM, with Arts and Culture University of Exeter, and Libraries Unlimited (through Evolve – a programme of events and artworks within Devon’s libraries), is calling for an artist who identifies as female to join the Centre in an ‘exploratory residency’ to engage with our world-leading research, to explore new insights and ways of working through a process of exchange between artist and researchers. The artist will participate in Evolve’s Library Lates programme connected to the exhibition Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rightswhich explores the work of contemporary activist groups of a range of causes, including increasing the number of women and girls involved in science.

This exhibition will be touring to Exeter Central Library in spring 2021.

We are open to art form and approach. Practitioners may specialise in any art form, and may choose to explore the processes involved in the basic science taking place in the centre; in the development of new drugs; of patient experience; or the nature of infectious fungi; or something entirely different – as long as it is relevant to the research taking place at the MRC CMM, and the centre’s vision. It is not a requirement to explore the themes of the ‘Unfinished Business’ exhibition through this residency, although this is of course a possibility. For an accessible introduction to the Centre’s work please view the animation at the top of this page.

We are looking for an artist with a collaborative practice and experience involving others in their work. We want dialogue to take place between artist and researchers, and for both parties to be enriched by the experience, gaining new perspectives. This exchange of ideas and practices is central to the project and we will work together to document this process and to create accessible sharings of the work as an outcome of the project.

  • The Exploratory Residency will take place over 4 weeks in spring 2021, with a tangible artistic outcome produced.
  • The artist will meet with scientists, students and staff at the centre to discuss the research taking place and the ways in which it is conducted; support to coordinate this activity will be provided by the CMM.
  • Covid-19 restrictions mean that we need to take a flexible approach to online and on-site working. We will work with the artist to manage this dependent on what is possible at the time.
  • The artist will take part in a one-off ‘in conversation with’ event at Exeter Library, about female voices in arts and science, which they will contribute to shaping. This is provisionally booked for 5th March, and may be live, blended or remote depending on Covid-19 restrictions.
  • The artist will take part in a further 1-2 dissemination events in spring/summer 2021, at the UoE.
  • A film (or other creative documentation) will be made to record the process, and the work will be shown digitally via UoE websites and Evolve’s website and – depending on form – in an exhibition space at UoE and at Exeter Library, most likely in summer 2021 however this is dependent on Covid-19 restrictions. Costs related to this documentation and dissemination will be covered by the CMM.
  • The total budget for the Exploratory Residency is £5,000 (inclusive of VAT) to include the artist’s fee, equipment, any travel and accommodation required, and production costs.

Applications can be made by sending a written response of up to 1000 words (with up to six supporting images, or link to one video file if appropriate), plus a CV to l.j.barnes@exeter.ac.uk. The deadlines for submitting applications is 1st February 2021, with interviews taking place on 10th February.

The response should describe the project that you are proposing including your approach and the project outcomes, how the project that you are proposing explores the research themes and/or vision of the MRC CMM, and should tell us a bit about your practice and your experience on collaborating with others. We would also be interested to hear how you think the public might engage with the project. We recognise that details provided in this application are provisional and may not reflect final project outcomes.

The interview panel is Professor Elaine Bignell, a Co-Director of the CMM, Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture University of Exeter, Daniel Clark, Creative Director of Libraries Unlimited, and Lorna Barnes, Communities Engagement Manager for the CMM.

Please note – £100 will be provided to cover the artist’s time to prepare for the interview.

We believe any collaboration will be stronger with greater diversity and so welcome applications from those who bring difference. We understand that each of us bring our experiences, our backgrounds and our own unique lens to what we do. Disabled people, those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, those who did not go to University or those who had free school meals as a child are all under-represented in the cultural industries. We particularly encourage applications from people in these groups.