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A first look at the sculpture concept. Credit: Still/Moving

Sculpting Medical Mycology - New sculpture commission at the University of Exeter

In an exciting new commission to highlight the use of science to tackle the global burden of human fungal diseases, the Medical Research Council Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM) at the University of Exeter will be working with Still/Moving to create a sculptural installation as a means of stimulating thinking and engagement with research undertaken by the Centre, whilst sharing a positive vision for the future.

The MRC CMM is a world leader in the innovative research needed to tackle the threat of fungal pathogens and how to prevent and treat those affected. Unlike other pathogens, fungi are the least studied and least understood, despite the fact they kill around 1.5 million people each year. As a result, the MRC CMM is focused on highlighting the huge burden posed by these diseases and in bringing the important work being done to the public eye.

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.
Recent projects include the 70m long light sculpture, NO NEW WORLDS, shown in Plymouth for the Mayflower 400 Commemorations and at COP26 in Glasgow. Their project LOVE IS THE HIGHEST ECONOMY, collected light sculptures from around the country made in the run up to and during COP26, can be seen on the facade of Exeter Phoenix from 3rd December 2021- January 2022.

Of the sculpture’s concept, Still/Moving says, “Fungi are some of the least studied, and least understood pathogenic microbes that can infect humans. The proposed sculpture reveals the invisible and often overlooked kingdom of pathogenic fungi that exists among us. Its complex form seeks to celebrate the impact of biological research towards the prevention of human fungal diseases globally, and the hope for future generations that this research brings. The sculpture is inspired by the way fungi occupies and moves through a host, in an ever-evolving state of ‘transient intrusion.’”

Gordon Brown, Director of the MRC CMM, shares “We are thrilled that the artist-collective Still/Moving have been selected to develop a sculpture reflecting our research activities. The purpose of this sculpture is to intrigue passers-by, encouraging them to find out more about our Centre’s research and the global approaches we are taking to combat human fungal diseases. We are very much looking forward to working with Still/Moving over the coming months as they develop their ideas and the sculpture comes to life.”

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director of Arts and Culture, says “It has been a wonderful opportunity to work alongside the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology in the commissioning of a new sculpture for the Streatham campus grounds, highlighting their vital and literally life-saving research. The selected artists, Still/Moving, have an amazing track record for thoughtful artwork, responding to the urgent environmental crises of our times, and they are a great match for celebrating the researchers’ work and raising our awareness of the ‘fungal threat’, which kills 1.5m people every year. The University of Exeter’s Fine Art Collection holds artworks by Barbara Hepworth, Alexander Beleschenko and Richard Kindersley, and this new acquisition will be an exciting addition to our engaging Sculpture Walk.

The finished sculpture will be installed outside the Geoffrey Pope Building at the heart of the University’s Streatham campus, where the Centre is located, and it is also expected to be included in the University of Exeter Fine Art Collection.

Date: 7 January 2022

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