Sharing science with the public is a two-way process
We have a responsibility to explain our work and share discoveries, but also benefit enormously from listening to the experiences of people affected by eczema. In this exchange, we find the most important questions to drive our research.
Outside her work day to day, Sara has also taken many opportunities to get involved with public engagement in different ways
Sara’s clinical work as a consultant dermatologist for NHS Lothian brings many opportunities to listen to patients with eczema.
She is also passionate about public engagement and has taken many opportunities to get involved with various exciting public engagement initiatives.
Expressions of Eczema
One such initiative uses an art-science collaboration to communicate the importance of Atopic eczema and eczema genetics.
Atopic Art: Expressions of Eczema began in 2014 as a collaboration with Eczema Outreach Scotland where Sara acted as medical advisor and ASCUS Art & Science, a non-profit organisation which celebrates the intersection of art and science.
Expressions of Eczema
In 2015, two artists, Trevor Gordon and Josie Vallely who have personal experience of eczema were commissioned to deliver workshops based around the theme, ‘living with eczema’ and the ‘science of eczema’ to families affected by the condition at venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
The workshops helped the families share their experiences and give new perspectives to their condition.
Hear more about the Atopic Art workshops from Trevor and Josie in this video made for Eczema Outreach Scotland. Watch the video.
Expressions of Eczema
Inspired by what was created by participants in these workshops, the artists developed new artwork that reflected the emotional impact of the condition on sufferers.
From building safe and dream-filled spaces to expressing imaginative representations that play with the tactile and textural manifestations of the condition, the pieces were showcased in a traveling exhibition that toured the Dundee Science Festival in Nov 2015 and the 2016 Edinburgh International Science Festival Exhibition, Bio and Beyond.
Brown Lab Microresidency
The project developed further and led to two new commissioned artists, Beverley Hood and Gordon Douglas joining Brown Lab in 2017 for a micro-residency.
The artists gained deep insight into eczema on a genetic and molecular level, working directly with Dr Brown and her research team. Both brought their experience to the public in interactive hands-on workshops held in ASCUS Art & Science’s ASCUS Lab during the 2017 Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Beyond Skin Exhibition
Work created by Gordon and Beverley as part of the micro-residency and from the earlier Atopic Art family workshops formed the exhibition Beyond Skin at LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery at The College of Life Sciences in Dundee later in the summer of 2017.
Listen to Sara explain her research & the art residencies in this short video, recorded for the LifeSpace exhibition.
Later in 2017, by invitation of Dundee City Council, twelve billboard posters were displayed in Slessor Gardens, Dundee giving the Atopic Art project wide public exposure.
We Began as Part
of the Body
Artist, Beverley Hood has developed her experience of the project further and her work has been exhibited in Edinburgh, London, and Berlin. From 2018 to 2020, her project ‘We Began as Part of the Body’ developed into an immersive AR experience piece from the perspective of a skin cell used in research. Some of Bev's work can be see here.
The artist’s 3D printed keratinocytes continue to be used as talking points and conversation-starters and will be part of the 2020 Edinburgh Science Festival’s visual arts exhibition.
Launch of 'surface echoes'
Sara's latest work, funded by a ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award, aims to bring the voices and experiences of people living with eczema to a much wider audience. The team in 'Surface Echoes' includes Keira, Alison, Sara, Bev and Dee. And we are delighted to welcome Eczema Outreach as a highly-valued partner in this project.
Using speech synthesis, professional voice actors, sound artists and creative visualisation methods, we will work with patient communities to find meaningful, thought-provoking ways to make their voices heard. We hope to raise awareness, promote discussion, reduce stigma and increase understanding about eczema and its impact.
Read more about the launch of this 3-year project here.