Embracing Complexity Through Art And Science

12 November 2020

A new collaboration between scientists and artists hopes to raise awareness of the experiences of people affected by rare genetic conditions.

Dr Sam Chawner from Cardiff University has teamed up with Phenotypica, an art and science initiative by scientist Ben Murray and artist Neus Torres Tamarit.

Sam’s research aims to understand the link between rare genetic conditions and mental health problems. Through Phenotypica, Ben and Neus create immersive artworks that play with and illuminate the mechanisms of genetics and evolution.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust ISSF3 Award, their project, Embracing Complexity, hopes to cover themes such as mental health in genetic conditions, experiences of accessing health services, education and school experiences, and the experiences of people with genetics conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through workshops with people and families with lived experience of rare genetic conditions the team hope to hold an exhibition of artwork created from what they learn through these conversations.

genomic artwork

Sam explained: “Through this project, we’re hoping to give the rare genetic condition community an opportunity to have their voices heard in society. Often, personal experiences can be lost in the research we do. By bringing in artists like Ben and Neus, who have a brilliant track record of engaging science art installations, we hope to not only pass the microphone to the rare genetic condition community but also create a new resource to engage with public and policymakers.”

Ben and Neus said: “We were thrilled to have recently joined a meeting with Cerebra where we had our first chance to get feedback on the project. We are keen to make sure the voice of the community is an integral part of this work and our goal is to make it as accessible as possible for people to give us feedback throughout this project and related future activities.”

“Sam, Neus and Ben came along to our last KTP Steering Group meeting to discuss their work and get feedback from the group. There was a lot of enthusiasm about their project and its ability to give those with rare conditions the opportunity to showcase what living with a genetic condition is like for them personally”.

— Lowri O’Donovan, KTP Mental Health Research Associate

You can read more about KTP research project here.

For more information about Embracing Complexity contact Dr Sam Chawner [email protected] and follow #CreativeComplexity on Twitter.

Photo credit
Pictures of the workshop Metagenomics in Art, created by Neus Torres Tamarit for the Tate Exchange, Tate Modern (London) in 2016. Participants modelled imaginary DNA sequences with plasticine, of the colours usually used in scientific models to represent the DNA nucleotides. Pictures credit Neus Torres Tamarit, copyright Phenotypica (Neus Torres Tamarit and Ben Murray).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Make a Donation

Please help support our vital work that enriches the lives of thousands of children and their families every day.

Sleep Service

Sleep Advice Service


Legal Rights Service

Parent Guides

Parent Guides

Cerebra Innovation Centre

Cerebra Innovation Centre


Toy and Book Library