Lava, live bees and looking back on 2019


Extended until the end of January, we had extra time with the Gallery’s first exhibition and events season, HOOKED, exploring addiction and recovery. One of visitors’ favourite pieces was the beautiful, fragile, and tooth decay-inducing Sugar Rush. Atelier 010’s sugar coffee table collapsed on contact with liquid, but the crumbled crystals could be rebuilt into a new structure, capturing the ongoing cycle of addiction and recovery.


SPARE PARTS: Rethinking Human Repair arrived, and the Gallery gained some new house guests, in the form of a hive of urban bees. The bees took up residence in Hivecubator 2.0, an experimental incubator which kept cells alive through the heat generated by these amazing insects. Here Gallery & Technical Manager, Alastair, and Technician Frankie put the finishing touches to the bees’ new home.

Outside in Guy’s Courtyard, Compostcubator 2.0 used the heat produced by a decomposing pile of compost to maintain cells alive – even in chilly London temperatures! Artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr worked with researchers Kalle Sipilä, Christina Philippeos and Jess Sells from the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King's College London to design and maintain this experimental incubator. 


Image credit: Charlie Fitz by Oscar Vinter

The Gut space in SPARE PARTS was home to many creatives and researchers in the spring, each bringing a unique perspective to explore repairing the body. Independent magazine malady mag reimagined the space as a human library where visitors could take out ‘books’, talking to people about their lived experiences of disability. The discussions from the day were archived in the first edition of malady mag, available online.

King’s PhD student Samuel Pitou and textile artist Katrina Thompson led a unique sewing challenge, teaching visitors how to sew electrodes that could detect muscular activity (electromyography) and enable prosthesis wearers to control the moving parts of their artificial limb. The finished samples were used in Samuel’s research into cheap and effective alternatives to industrially produced electrodes.


Image by Richard Dixon

As the temperatures warmed up, the Gallery bees were full of beans and were a hit with visitors of all ages. At MAKESHOP sessions during the Easter holidays younger visitors made bee hotels and learnt about the importance of protecting pollinators with Esther from Urban Bees.

The Gallery was filled with a crop of hybrid cacti, as part of workshops led by Gynelle Leon, founder of PRICK London and King’s alumni. Working with Daria Belokhvostova from the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s, Gynelle led visitors in sold-out workshops exploring the parallels between cultivating cacti and regenerating the body.


Following their collaboration in SPARE PARTSwith researchers Lucy Di-Silvio and Trevor Coward fron the Faculty of Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at King's, designers Burton Nitta premiered a new anthem for a divided nation, a piece of music designed to speak directly to the body’s cells. The composition complimented an artwork in the exhibition which used tissue engineering to create a hypothetical larynx. This modified voice box was a vision of the future where the human voice could reach new frequencies, known to encourage cells to grow.


DARK MATTER: 95% of the Universe is Missing was a journey to the limits of human knowledge, drawing on research from the Department of Physics at King’s. Giving it five stars, Londonist told readers to “just go and try it”!

Private hire guests soaked up the summer sunshine in outdoor events in Guy's Courtyard. Clients DFW Law said: "We held our office summer party in the Courtyard and had the most magical night thanks to the fantastic and attentive staff, gorgeous surroundings and delicious food. The staff were incredibly attentive and really made the experience.”


Image credit: Science Gallery International

London was the venue for a gathering of young people from across the global Science Gallery Network for the annual Youth Symposium. In a day of workshops, activities and performance rap led by Science Gallery London Young Leader Mandeep, this group of future creatives explored the theme of “co-create.”

The DARK MATTER Friday Late turned up the heat, as artist Jo Lathwood demonstrated how to create real lava in Guy’s courtyard! While the rainy Great British Summer sadly put a stop to any lava-making, Jo talked visitors through the process, with the help of a serious furnace!


Young Leader Bella Spencer worked with filmmaker Sofia Olins to create a new short film inspired by and starring her fellow Young Leaders. Inspired by conversations with her peers about growing up in a time of change, ‘Uncertainty’ premiered at the BFI in August. Read about Bella’s experiences.


Science Gallery London celebrated both its first birthday and reaching the milestone of welcoming 350,000 visitors to the building in just one year.

Exploring positive and creative responses to anxious times, the fourth Gallery season, ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety was shaped by research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s.


As climate strikes took place all over the world, neuroscientist Kris De Meyer from the Department of Neuroimaging at King's, climate psychologist Caroline Hickman from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences at the University of Bath, and climate activist Clover Hogan discussed eco anxiety in a sold-out event. Visitors to ON EDGE can contribute to Kris’ emerging research into the links between climate, anxiety and action.


Should GPs prescribe arts, culture and leisure activities for anxiety? Social prescribing was the order of the day in November with a day of talks, discussions and creative activities as part of the ON EDGE season and the Arts, Health & Wellbeing strategy at King’s.

We welcomed our second cohort of Young Leaders, nine young people aged 15-25 who study at King’s or who live, work or study in our home boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth. Stay tuned for more from Science Gallery London’s group of young creatives and advisers as they shape future exhibitions and events

And, Science Gallery London is officially award winning! The Gallery won an Architects’ Journal award in recognition of the work by LTS Architects and King’s College London to transform the building into the Gallery space you see today.


Image: Skin Flick, Adham Faramawy, 2019 (Video still)

It’s beginning to look a lot like…GENDERS.

As the year draws to a close, we’re looking forward to GENDERS: Shaping and Breaking the Binary which opens on 13 February. This playful and personal exhibition and events season will reflect on identity, biology and society through art, science and research from across King’s College London.

From all the team at Science Gallery London, we wish you a peaceful festive season. 2020 promises to be another thought-provoking and exciting year, and we can’t wait to see you!

Katie Barron is Communications Officer at Science Gallery London.