We asked Cranfield customer and emerging artist Jess Kerridge to reflect upon a year away from her fine art course as an embedded artist in Oxford University.

I have just finished a very unique year on a placement which has been part of my Fine Art degree  (often misheard as ‘finance degree’, which I sadly have no idea about with the exception of my hefty student loan).

The placement brief was to produce a series of artworks to promote the work of a cancer research group at Oxford University. This group uses nano-medicine to come up with  innovative new cancer treatments that target cancers more effectively and produce less side effects  than existing treatments. The research is supported by a charity called the William’s Fund; set up by  Johanna Dodd, the mother of William Dodd who sadly passed away with a rare form of cancer when he was just 4 years old.

The William’s Fund is a small organisation and my role as an artist was to help promote the research and raise funds for the charity  to support the life changing work that they do.

So far during my time at university my practice has been focussed  on landscape painting. Therefore, stepping into this unusual  environment of the scientific world has been a novel experience, exciting and challenging in numerous ways.

Initially I had to get my head around the type of science that the research group was  doing (nanotechnology is certainly not straightforward!). I then  had to work out how I would translate the complexity of the  science would be observing into an artistic format; making it  accessible.

 

To gain inspiration I looked at artists who have been informed by science. These included Alexander  Ross who has produced some very intricate drawings of cells, as well as Angela Canada-Hopkins who  creates abstracted colourful expressions of cell forms which I found very intriguing. When conversing  with Prof. Helen Townley, who runs the cancer research group in Oxford, we decided it would be  appropriate to come up with a calendar design as a way of raising funds for the charity and research.  A calendar would be a great way of displaying the science that was taking place but in an artistic  format. We decided that accurate detailed drawings would fit well with what we were trying to  convey; alongside the drawings would be an explanation of the science.

The majority of my placement I was working from home in my bedroom in Bath, which made for a classy studio, but I would travel to Oxford for one or two days most weeks. When in Oxford, I would go up to Begbroke Science Park where the research takes place. I was able to take sketches of people working in the labs as well as

science equipment and even have a look at cell forms through powerful microscopes. I would also take copious amounts of photos to reference when I was back at home drawing or painting. It was very exciting being in the labs, surrounded by science that is going to help so many people. This certainly gave me the motivation to push through the repetitiveness of doing numerous pencil drawings.

 

 

This year has certainly been an incredible experience, I have had the chance to explore a very niche  area which I had never considered could cross over into the art realm. Although I am looking forward  to getting back into landscape paintings in my final year of university in October, I am so glad for the  skills that year has given me and for working for such a brilliant cause.

https://www.williamsfund.co.uk

https://www.wrh.ox.ac.uk/team/helen-townley