As part of a 5 week long storytelling project our first year Illustration students met with 3 practitioners from different fields; Master storyteller David Campbell, Sculptor Duncan Robertson and Scientist Prof Bill Earnshaw. Each gave insight into their professions and the relevance of storytelling within their practice.
The final task took inspiration from scientific methods of research as well as collaborations between artists and scientists. On Day One we were introduced to the ASCUS lab at Summerhall and given basic microscope training, followed by an exercise of how to extract our own cheek cells and stain them so that the cell membrane and nucleus show up clearly. In the afternoon the group then met Bill Earnshaw, Professor of Chromosome Dynamics at the University of Edinburgh, who spoke about his research, ideas on art and science and shared his personal journey of becoming a scientist. Most interestingly, Bill pointed out similarities between Art and Science processes and how he himself was torn between becoming an artist or a Scientist.
In response to the events of Day One our students were then asked to create an illustrated sequential narrative piece containing a minimum of 4 panels. Any discoveries from throughout the day were to serve as a starting point, and a playful approach welcomed, which saw fact and science being turned into imagination and fiction.
On show, during our end of year pop-up exhibition, were a vast collection of different approaches, styles and ideas. From comic books to embroidery hoops, zines and concertina books, there are truly no two works alike. Some students chose a humorous approach to their narrative, whereas other students chose to focus on much more serious topics. Some took inspiration from scientific facts and others discovered the path of science fiction by delving into their imaginations. The narratives you will find on display feature lovable characters and interactions between them.
In addition to the narratives students were asked to create a short frame animated gif, still inspired by cells. Most illustrators had not worked with animation before so this was a new challenge. The outcomes are truly fascinating. There is a range of colour and movement in this collection of gifs.
Our students particularly enjoyed the creative freedom they were given for this project, and the fact that they could revisit and apply a lot of their learning from throughout their first year at ECA. We are really grateful to Bill Earnshaw and the ASCUS lab for making this exciting project happen.