Artist in Residence
Research Complex at Harwell, UK
In late August 2006, Lord Sainsbury, the then Science and Innovation Minister, announced that a £26.4m investment would fund the construction of the new Research Complex at Harwell. The investment was part of the commitment of the Government at the time to making the UK the most attractive location in the world for scientific research.
Fine Art Photographer Theo Chalmers was invited by Director Simon Phillips and his team at The Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) to be their Artist in Residence throughout May and June of 2010 in the lead up to the official opening of the new building. During his post at RCaH, Chalmers was introduced to the core work carried out by the scientists at the Complex. As a culmination to this placement, Chalmers was invited to creatively reflect on his findings and to produce a large scale, site-specific work of art for the building's reception room.
The image exhibited at RCaH is Chalmers’ interpretation of the ethos of the facility. His work champions the message that ‘Scientists from different disciplines work at RCaH together to make new discoveries’. Biologists, chemists and physicists (each represented in turn by the purple, green and blue linked arms) contribute, record and safeguard knowledge of unfolding phenomena with precision and accuracy. The duplication within the image represents the reinforcement of understanding created by many hands and many minds working in concert. The central light of the image represents the not yet discovered, while the human face reflects enlightenment. Light, the electromagnetic spectrum and particularly X-ray (represented in the top left and top right of the image) are the other key areas of influence for Chalmers in this piece.
The work explores not only ‘the very tiny’ but the collaborative effort needed to understand a molecule’s underlying properties. The words of Galileo Galilei “Measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so,” can also be seen running in duplicate in the image. The original artwork, exhibited permanently in the communal meeting area at RCaH, measures 3m by 1.4m
"We have friends in other fields"
Words from a classic talk by Richard P. Feynman, 1959
“I am honoured to have been invited to reflect creatively on the mind-blowing work carried out
at RCaH. I have been introduced to an amazing world filled to bursting with more findings than
my imagination could ever contemplate. Then comes the promise of new findings, making this
place simply awesome. Meeting with the biologists, chemists and physicists at the Complex and
viewing their work has made me explode with pride to be part of the human race. The work I
have made in response to this is an outright celebration of what has been, is now, and is yet to
come from those scientists’ remarkable collaborative contribution to our health, wealth and happiness.”