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Artist appointed for new home of UK DRI at UCL

Artist Grays Inn Road

We are delighted to announce that artist Annie Cattrell has been appointed as the public artist for the state-of-the-art research facility which will house over 500 scientists and clinicians from the UK DRI, UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology (IoN) and UCLH’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN).

Annie is a tutor in the School of Arts and Humanities at the Royal College of Art and was selected from a number of artists who prepared an expression of interest for how they would approach and create public art works at the new site. She has undertaken previous art commissions at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and exhibits widely, both nationally and internationally.

Annie is particularly interested in where art, science and the poetic meet. Her cross-disciplinary approach has seen her collaborate with specialists in neuroscience, meteorology, engineering, psychiatry and the history of science.

UCL is such a vibrant and dynamic university, the ethos of which encourages inclusivity, generosity, dialogue and forward thinking. I aim to approach the development and implementation of the project in this UCL spirit. Annie Cattrell

As the first artist appointed to work at UCL’s new neuroscience facility, she will work with the building architects to help shape the identity of the new development through artwork that will stimulate debate and provide a lasting legacy on the site. To broaden knowledge and awareness of the research the building will support, she will work closely with the three bodies that will be housed in the building. Her role will play a real part in the experiences of the building’s patients and visitors.

UCL, the hub for the UK DRI, is a global leader in pioneering research into neurological diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, neuromuscular diseases, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, stroke and epilepsy. The new facility, which was awarded conditional planning permission in September 2019 and will open in 2024, will create a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment to translate UCL’s research power into developing treatments for these conditions.

The public artist appointment was led by UCL Culture which, through its public art programming, explores mechanisms to empower artists to stimulate interdisciplinary relationships and to play a part in critical discourse and contribute to the wider understanding of the work of UCL, its place in London and the global challenges that UCL research addresses. The artwork programme at Grays Inn Road will form a key part of the site strategy’s ambition to unify patients, UCL’s academic and research communities and the wider communities around the site. It will be financed by Transforming UCL, the largest capital programme in UCL’s history.

Annie said:

“It is an honour to have been appointed to undertake this exciting and challenging commission for UCL’s new neuroscience centre. I look forward to engaging in dialogues with staff from IoN, the UK DRI and UCLH to find meaningful ways to understand their world leading research and clinical work. This aspect will undoubtedly inform and contribute to the thinking and decision making that underpins the final public artwork(s). 

“UCL is such a vibrant and dynamic university, the ethos of which encourages inclusivity, generosity, dialogue and forward thinking. I aim to approach the development and implementation of the project in this UCL spirit.”

Dr Adrian Ivinson, UK DRI Director (Operations), said:

“The new building will be a fitting home for the hub of the UK Dementia Research Institute – a community of up to 700 researchers working hard to prevent dementia. The building will also provide an exciting opportunity for researchers, clinicians and people affected by dementia to meet under one roof. Art, embedded throughout the site, will create an environment that welcomes and inspires. We look forward to seeing how Annie will bring our story, our research and our ambition to life through her work.”

Sam Wilkinson, Head of Public Art at UCL, said:

“We are thrilled that Annie will be working with us over the coming few years. Annie was selected by the art committee due to her inherent interest and sensitivity to the areas of research to be carried out within the new building. We believe the resultant artworks will be inspirational and enhance the experience of all those who work and visit the building. Annie’s experience in this field will pave the way for future artistic commissions currently under development.” 

Professor Mike Hanna, Director of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, said:

“In this new building we are equipping the next generation of scientists and clinicians with the capability and technology they need to develop cures and treatments to combat devastating neurological diseases. Annie’s appointment will create a fantastic opportunity for the public to engage with our research and her work will play a vital role in our mission to transform lives through this ground breaking new facility.”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of Faculty of Brain Sciences and Garfield Weston Professor of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation at UCL, said:

“Patients and the pubic are central to this entire development and should reap the benefits of the work being carried out. It is very exciting to have Annie Cattrell as the public artist for this project – she will have a key role in enhancing our engagement with our key players.”

Dr Chris Turner, Divisional Clinical Director, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, said:

"We are delighted that UCL has appointed an artist for the new facility. We know that art makes a huge difference for patients across our hospitals. With UCLH having clinical space at this new facility, it will undoubtedly improve the experience of patients coming to the centre.”

Image: Annie Cattrell with her installation ‘0 to 10,000,000’ in the University of Oxford’s Biochemistry building

Article published: 10 March 2020

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