Medical Research Council and University of Exeter

Pharmakon Launch

Pharmakon – come and see the unveiling on 14 June 2022 at 4PM


What is it?

An exciting new sculpture “Pharmakon”, highlighting the use of science to tackle the global burden of human fungal diseases, will be launched on 14th June 2022. The Medical Research Council Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM) at the University of Exeter commissioned artists Still/Moving to produce this public artwork. The sculpture will be installed outside the Geoffrey Pope Building where the Centre is located, in the heart of the University’s Streatham campus. Pharmakon will be unveiled at 4:00pm by Dr Jonathan Pearce, Director of Strategy and Planning for the Medical Research Council, Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter and the Lord Mayor of Exeter Yolonda Henson. The event is open to all.

Why is it significant?

The impact of fungal infections on humans is immense, but not widely appreciated. Fungal infections kill over 1.5 million people every year but remain critically understudied. The mission of the MRC CMM is to deliver world-leading research that will enable the generation and utilisation of skills and knowledge that will improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of fungal diseases in the future. The MRC CMM is also committed to raising awareness of these diseases, and it is the Centre’s hope that Pharmakon will represent a visible icon for these diseases that attracts further interest by the general public.

Who are the artists?

Still/Moving is composed of three artists, Laura Hopes, Martin Hampton, and Léonie Hampton, who met when they were 13. Living in Devon, UK, their collective practice aims to create social and ecological change through questioning established modes of thinking and behaviour. Projects are developed through a process of collaborative and participatory dialogue and activity among each other and with partner communities. Inspired by the artist Louise Bourgeois who said, ‘It is not about the medium, it is about what you are trying to say’, their work emerges in diverse forms, including sculpture, film, photography, performance, installation, the spoken and printed word.



Still/Moving’s thoughts

“Our sculpture, Pharmakon, attempts to reveal the invisible and often overlooked kingdom of pathogenic fungi that exists among us. It explores the intricate forms that mycelial networks can take as they move through a human host and the extraordinary ways our immune system responds. Inspired by the work that is happening inside MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, the sculpture uses recycled bronze to create an amorphous silhouette, which reminds us of our human frailty and the need for ecological balance.”

What we think

Professor Gordon Brown, Director of the MRC CMM, says, “We are incredibly excited to unveil the artist-collective Still/Moving’s sculpture “Pharmakon”. Commissioned by the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, this externally located, iconic sculpture is aimed at attracting the interest of passers-by and encouraging them to find out more about the enormous challenges we face in combatting human fungal diseases, as well as the approaches our Centre and wider research community are taking to tackle these challenges.”

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture at the University of Exeter, says “It has been such a creative and inspiring experience to support the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology and Still/Moving on the creation of Pharmakon. Arts and Culture University of Exeter manages the Fine Art Collection, and we are thrilled that this innovative commission is being acquired by the institution for the benefit of current and future generations. So much incredible research happens at our University campuses, and the arts are a brilliant means of reaching beyond the lab to inform and engage a much broader public. Still/Moving have worked closely with the MRC CMM researchers to make a captivating, intriguing and even unnerving sculpture that we know will bring many people into a greater understanding of this urgent subject.”

The sculpture will be included in the University of Exeter’s Sculpture Walk and become the 40th sculpture belonging to the university alongside such artists as Barbara Hepworth and Peter Randall-Page.