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The unveiling event of Pharmakon takes place at 4pm on Tuesday, June 14th 2022 outside the Geoffrey Pope building on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus

Evocative new sculpture to be unveiled at the University of Exeter

An unusual and thought-provoking new sculpture, created to characterize how science is confronting one of the world’s biggest threats to human health and food security, is set to be unveiled at the University of Exeter. 

The stimulating new artwork, called Pharmakon, was created by Devon artist collective Still/Moving and is made from recycled bronze. 

The sculpture will be installed outside the Geoffrey Pope Building at the heart of the University’s Streatham Campus. 

It will officially be unveiled during a special, public event on Tuesday, June 14th at 4pm, which is free for everyone to attend. The guests of honour will be Dr Jonathan Pearce, Director of Strategy and Planning for the MRC and the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Yolonda Henson

The sculpture is designed to highlight the significant scientific research and advances to tackle the global burden of fungal pathogens - which kill around 1.5 million people worldwide each year. 

The poignant new artwork shows the intricate forms that mycelial networks take as they move through the human body, and how the immune system responds, in a striking silhouette design. 

The artwork was commissioned by the Medical Research Council Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM), which is based at the University of Exeter. The Centre is a world-leading authority on the innovative research needed to tackle the threat of fungal pathogens and how to prevent and treat those affected.  

Despite the growing threat to human health, the fungal pathogens are amongst the least studied and least understood. The Centre believes this new, impressive and eye-catching sculpture will highlight the huge burden posed by these diseases, and bring the integral work it conducts to the public eye. 

Professor Gordon Brown, Director of the MRC CMM, says, “We are incredibly excited to unveil the artist-collective Still/Moving’s sculpture “Pharmakon”.  This externally located, iconic sculpture is aimed at attracting the interest of passers-by and encouraging them to find out more about the enormous challenges we face in combatting human fungal diseases, as well as the approaches our Centre and wider research community are taking to tackle these challenges.” 

Still/Moving, who created the striking artwork, is composed of three artists, Laura Hopes, Martin Hampton, and Léonie Hampton, who met when they were 13.  

Living in Devon, they aim 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. 

Speaking ahead of the unveiling ceremony Still/Moving said: “Our sculpture, Pharmakon, attempts to reveal the invisible and often overlooked kingdom of pathogenic fungi that exists among us.  

“It explores the intricate forms that mycelial networks can take as they move through a human host and the extraordinary ways our immune system responds. 

“Inspired by the work that is happening in the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, the sculpture uses recycled bronze to create an amorphous silhouette, which reminds us of our human frailty and the need for ecological balance.” 

 After the unveiling, the sculpture will be included in the University of Exeter’s Sculpture Walk, alongside such artists as Barbara Hepworth and Peter Randall-Page. 

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture at the University of Exeter said: “We are thrilled that this innovative commission is being acquired for the benefit of current and future generations.  

“So much incredible research happens on our University campuses, and the arts are a brilliant means of reaching beyond the lab to inform and engage a much broader public. Still/Moving have worked closely with the MRC CMM researchers to make this captivating, intriguing and even unnerving sculpture that we know will bring many people into a greater understanding of this urgent subject.” 

The unveiling event takes place at 4pm on Tuesday, June 14th 2022 outside the Geoffrey Pope building on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus. All are invited to attend. 

For more information about the work conducted by the Medical Research Council Centre for Medical Mycology please visit Fungal resistance | Antimicrobial Resistance Research | University of Exeter 

Date: 8 June 2022

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