Group shot outside the Cyrogenic Test Facility

CERN: January 2020

2 student posing in tunnel at CERN


Blackboard maths equations

CERN has been a place of pilgrimage for scientists from around the world since 1954 and, more recently, they have been joined by artists.  A group of over twenty MAAS colleagues were privileged to spend four days in the company of our hosts, Michael Hoch and Andy Charalambous, exploring the site of the vast and the minuscule.  We are grateful to them and to all the others who supported them in making the trip such a success.

Students talking Physics

talking about the tunnel

Happy students in tunnel at CERN

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva on the way in..

Presentation in the earliest particle accelerator at CERN

Presentation in the earliest particle accelerator at CERN

Michael Hoch, our guide on site

Michael Hoch, our guide on site

Where anti-matter was first observed

Where anti-matter was first observed – for the tiniest fraction of a second

Outside the exhibition centre...

Outside the public exhibition centre…

...and part of the exhibition inside

…and part of the ‘Star Trek’ exhibition inside

Exploring a section of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) re-constructed above ground

Exploring a section of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) re-constructed above ground

It's not all high tech though...a gift from the Indian government

It’s not all high tech though.  A gift from the Indian government

Michael leads us down 100m to the Compact Muon Solonoid Detector (CMS)

Michael leads us down 100m to the Compact Muon Solonoid Detector (CMS)

Selfie central in front of CMS where the Higgs Boson was discovered!

Selfie central in front of CMS where the Higgs Boson was discovered!

The bank of detectors surrounding the LHC where protons collide

The bank of detectors surrounding the LHC where protons collide

Andy has been associated with CERN for many years. Here he poses with his work at the CMS site

Andy has been associated with CERN for many years. Here he poses with his work at the CMS site

Our visit was rounded off with a performance riffing on science vs belief at the IdeasSquare

Our visit was rounded off with a performance riffing on science vs belief at the IdeasSquare

All photographs © Phil Barton 2020

      And the last word goes to Molly Mcleod responding to the trip in words and images:

Breath holding, brain drain. 
Is a particle an object or an event? Your perception does not effect their behaviour. 
Contact inhibition, vague but exciting.
Strip away the layers to find the primordial mass. 

Cloud over factory roof; blue skyMetal staircase up the side of a grey wallThree chimneys emitting white smoke into a blue sky

Joya: art & ecology field trip 2019

At the beginning of June a dozen of us arrived at Joya for a week of creative isolation at Cortijada Los Gázquez (3281 ft.1000m alt.) a 20 hectare ‘off-grid’ rural farm in the heart of the Sierra María-Los Vélez Natural Park, Almería, Spain. A life-long project by Simon and Donna Beckman, Joya:Air is an international artists’ retreat.  Working together with an intensity not found in the Archway studios, we experimented, walked, made and shared – meals, studios, exploration and conversation. Here are some of the results…


Claires photograph of white stone in the Landscape



Claire McDermott

Joya:Air is set in the hill tops of an unspoilt landscape of Sierra Maria, Los Gázquez. It forms an ideal base for tranquillity and valuable reflections. I wanted to interact with this landscape to create artworks of white circles as a symbol of spent energy.

A drought that lasted three years meant the bugs, birds and animals had all disappeared. Luckily with recent rainfalls I woke at dawn to hear the most amazing bird song, amplified by their own excitement. The next morning, at 4am I watched the sun entice the birds and felt their invisible pure energy.

Di Wingate

….and breathe – take in the location, the sunlight, tranquility, 360 degrees view, aromas, sounds of nature, wind, birds, fauna…. sit, watch, think, walk- about, around, along, up and down, discuss, eat, consider, photograph, video, experiment, paint, draw, create, visit, history, experiment again, walk some more, relax, smile, forget time, forget politics, enjoy the now – enjoy La Joya.

Laura Madeley

a week of environmental immersion, experiments with light and shadow, sundials and sculpture-clocks, sketchbooks and solarisation. a chance to play with shape, form and distortion across 2D, 3D and digital media.  an opportunity to work within, and be inspired by the landscape, and to consider relationships between art and the environment.  a chance to work alongside peers and be inspired by the imaginations, talents and energy of other creative makers.  enough time to stop, step out of routines, and for ideas to go in a different direction altogether.

Phil Barton

What a privilege to experience a whole week immersed in nature, no social media, no deadlines and space to be. Inspiration came from the work and processes of my colleagues, the white/grey eroding soil, the light, wild flora…

5.30 in the evening: “Sitting. Listening. Watching. Vehicle far away, insects buzzing – one passes my ear, loudly. Heat shimmers as it begins to cool. Breeze washing over me, moves flowers and pine needles and this page and the windmill now also buzzing in the distance. A louder gust gently roars the treetops. Dog barking. Backlit wildflowers – yellow, ochre, white, pink, blue, purple… Pine cones amongst needle lacework against azure sky. Poppies along the tracks. Decrepit terraces tumble down the hillside; stony soil, white, like chalk, but isn’t. Ancient trees along the banks. Pruned. Orange lichen. Sun still warm through dappled shade…”



Qian Zhang (Tracey)

La Joya strikes me as a retreat away from the modern world such as the fictitious valley of Shangri-La. Geographically, it is isolated and perhaps there is a lack of modern conveniences we take for granted in the city. But for me, its relative isolation and partial inconvenience provide a wider space to perceive the relationship between myself and the others, nature, and even human evolution in history. By physically being there, I have acquired first hand something simple but profound through some basic activities such as cooking, tasting and sharing various terrific food in the interior atmosphere of calm and order, collecting stones and cypress cones, enjoying the delightful time with Joya’s mascots, Fufu and Frida.

Qinming Feng (Fung)

I have done the first experiment during the Joya trip, which used salt as the base medium to produce uric acid crystal. The process contained four steps, first, submerge the foams, which the poriferous structure can help it absorbing the liquid and fixing the crystallised salt, in saturated salt water. Then expose the salted foams on sunlight in order to evaporate the moisture. Thirdly, re-immerse the foam in urine liquid to use the crystallised salt as the medium and the base for uric acid crystallisation to do the ion exchange between urine and sodium, finally evaporate the residual liquid again.

Rose Mengmei Zhou


Yang Li

The first thing I want to say is the trip is awesome: work together, live together and play together really let me learn a lot from my treasured classmates.

Living under the same roof with them let me deeply feel and observe the western life style, such as the morning coffee and dinner wine. I truly felt my language ability has significantly progressed.

Luckily I found my final direction during the time there, and I had a chance to try some new ways of making art works. I have to say JOYA is a great place to think ideas and do projects, although there is a weak wifi and 4G signal.

Mariana Heilmann

Going to La Joya was like stepping out of known dimensions of time….at Los Gasques  time doesn’t tick, it hummmmms and if you listen, you can hear.

If I were to go there all over again, I would stop.  And listen. 

Instead, I dove straight in to do the work that I had planned to do: extract pigments from surrounding plants. Of course my ambitions were far greater than the time I had to fulfil them, and I was on a constant race against time to do as much as I could. 

This was a fantastic opportunity that allowed me to do something that I would not normally have had the time to do. It was heaven to be fully engaged and immersed. It felt like a huge privilege and luxury.

The simplicity of living. The silence. The camaraderie. Ending the days around the table groaning with food and engaging in conversation….or silence…either way…there was a feeling of peace and openness.

What Donna and Simon have created is truly inspiring. It is a gift to all of us who have the good fortune to take part in their vision and benefit from their generosity.

And here is some of the work we left behind us, with thanks to Simon, Donna and Heather…

about time


it’s about time

marking time 

watching time pass

taking time to start

finding time to stop

time to end up somewhere else

time to start something new


it’s about time

marking time 

paying attention to time

to daytime and night time

to sleep time and wake time

it’s about losing track of time

not waiting for a time when

there’s enough time

when there’s never enough time

and that time never comes


it’s about time

marking time

taking the time to listen

taking all the time that’s needed

having time to process

having too much time to think

it’s about trying to make up for lost time

and accepting time just doesn’t work like that


it’s about time, marking time –

remembering a time when….

a wrong time

a time when

we caught it just in time

its about the times in life

when time speeds up

when time stands still

its about the dead time

killing time

wasting time

accepting when its time to concede


it’s about time, marking time – 

remembering time

another time

the first time

the last time

the only time

that time

this time

next time

the first time for a long time


it’s about time

marking time

a right time

choosing how we spend our time

making the most of the time we have left

taking time to finish

taking time to reflect

time to stop

time to leave

time to arrive

time to start

time to commit


it’s about time

marking time

making time

time to begin

time to begin again


Laura Madeley

CERN : Highlights and Reflections

In mid January of 2019 a group of over 20 MA Art and Science students made their way to CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Famous for its discovery of the Higgs Boson to the World Wide Web, and home to the Large Hadron Collider. From learning about these discoveries, to seeing where they were created, and for a number of days being a part of the daily life of the CERN community… here tells a number of personal highlights and reflections from the journey. 

Charlotte Bolster

From the Large Hadron Collider to Hadron therapy.

CERN doesn’t just do ‘science for science sake’. As the senior Advisor for Medical Applications, Manjit Dosanjh works to translate the developments taking place into improvements in cancer care.

In a fortuitous change to our schedule we were privileged to join a lecture she was hosting, in which she communicated the historical advancements in radiotherapy, and the promise of hadron therapy, i.e. using hadrons accelerated through the same principles as used in the LHC.

Most poignantly, she spoke of global disparity in access to radiotherapy, and her ambition to lead the way in developing radiation therapy solutions ‘in situations where the power supply is unreliable, the climate is harsh or communications are poor’.  Inspired by her words, several of us are intending to meet with her again and explore how we might contribute to her dream by using our art practice to direct attention to this need. 

Mariana Heilmann

One of the aspects of CERN that struck me the most was the power of collective human ambition. In my pursuit to explore scale, interconnectivity and humanity’s place in that spectrum, visiting CERN was a valuable opportunity to see humankind at its most inventive, curious and expansive.  Learning about CERN’s colossal experiments and their invention of the World Wide Web was a great contribution to my research.

I am hugely grateful to Andy for having organised this trip as well as to Michael & team for the incredibly warm welcome and thorough insight into CERN. I’m also really grateful to Helen who was not only very inspiring, but very generous with her advice and time. It was a fantastic privilege to be there and to be invited to get involved in art@CMS. 

Last but not least, I loved every moment of spending time with our wonderful group as well as getting to know our Vienna fellows.

Hannah Pratt

CERN is an incredible place, not just in location but the also the whole spirit of collaboration to make the world better though science. As an artist I am excited to be able to access and interact with the scientists and engage with the wide range of research happening at CERN. 

Catherine Herbert

What I loved about CERN – and what represents how I now understand particle physics (and science in general), was the cloud chamber workshop because it made otherwise invisible particles – visible. Something else that’s emblematic – for me – of science, is that the existence of dark matter is only apparent because of how other matter behaves. Likewise, the Higgs Boson is proven indirectly because two photons are predicted to be what it decays into. Overall, CERN seems to be about being both thorough and uncertain at the same time. as the undetectable appears to appear in highly contrived experiments.

Diane Wingate

My recent trip to CERN has taught me a lot about the fundamental ideals behind scientific experimentation. The concept that it is acceptable not to know why we do something and the significance of it, combined with the belief that to move forward in technology and life it is not enough to simply perfect the things we know, we need to explore what we don’t know.

Lois Bentley

Here you have my highlights, plus some words about TATE. The latter is in response to Michael asking for “Ideas generated by the visit and artworks/exhibitions that happen as a result”

My highlights are:

  • The proportional scale: For example 3 mg of Hydrogen gas provide the raw material for, (was it) a year of experimentation. Tiny particles blasted around within giant machines(accelerators). A tiny amount of matter, yet a massive amount of electricity to power the 72MW “Total Energy CERN” was showing on a control monitor
  • The scale and construction of the detectors -vibrant colours and tessellated pattern of symmetry in construction
  • The way the words sound – Cyclo Synchrotron, Scintillator ALICE A Large Ion Collider Experiment, Compact Muon Solenoid. Immediately playful onomatopoeia.

Within one day of returning – we collaborated to create an exhibition at one of Europe’s most prestigious art galleries, Tate Modern. The exhibition was in the Tate Exchange space, where artists show their work in order to exchange ideas with the public. 

We used schoolroom technical aesthetic of blackboard – filled it with photographs, formuli, diagrams and a large question mark. We wrote an open letter to the public “To Whom It May Con-CERN” and invited their response. We generated public engagement works including a radiation wall made of lead, 3D printed plastic and constructed in wood. We created a large scale floor map of CERN’s experiments and major accelerators and detectors.

Where will this lead? … All the students are invited back to CERN for more in depth research or to explore newly inspired creative ideas. MAAS graduate Helen Cawley met up with the students at CERN. She made the same journey two years previous and has now been working along side scientists and researchers on the CLOUD project for approximately the last 3 months. 

MA Art and Science study trip to Florence, Italy

Words and images by Priya Odedra and Caglar Tahiroglu

With the culmination of the academic year, students from the MA Art and Science course at Central Saint Martins visited Florence between 5-9 June 2017 to explore the birthplace of Art and Science.  The trip was a fascinating addition to the interdisciplinary course comprised of students from diverse backgrounds. It seems that by the end of the week everyone had found an area of interest: from historical artefacts belonging to the Medici to renowned Renaissance artworks, striking wax-work models to delectable Italian cuisine! In conjunction with the educational and cultural aspects, which supplemented our academic objectives, the beautiful weather coupled with one of the most undeniably beautiful cities allowed us to unwind after a hectic year. It also allowed the graduating students to celebrate their completion of the Masters so all-in-all, it was an all-round, all-inclusive trip!


After dining at a local food market, Mercato centrale di Firenze, with a plethora of choice and wandering around the city on our first night, we were feeling enthused and well rested for our first day in Florence. This involved visiting the Accademia di belle Arti di Firenze (Florence Academy of Fine Arts). Our tutor, Roberta Ballestriero introduced us to her colleagues who work at the Accademia. Prof. Anna Luppi took us to the library, which was full of Renaissance relics. In particular, we were fortunate enough to see the original manuscript of Andreas Vesalius’ de Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543). As Vesalius is often considered the forefather of human anatomy, seeing his work was fascinating. We also witnessed the anatomical illustrations of the German artist, Albrecht Dürer, during a visit to Florence in 1500’s. It was interesting to observe how both the scientist (Vesalius) and artist (Dürer) approached the topic of the human body in different ways; Vesalius’ figures were expressive and intricate, whilst Durer predominantly explored physiological proportion and measurements.

After this, we had the opportunity to meet students currently studying at the Accademia, as well as visit the studio of Prof. Raffaella Nappo. Some of the MAAS students gave presentations explaining their work also, in a sort of artistic and cultural exchange. It was interesting and engaging to learn about each other’s practices and projects. We had lunch with the students at their canteen and exchanged contact details for potential future collaborations.


In the afternoon, we were lucky enough to partake in a life drawing class at the Accademia. Some of us were quite rusty, nevertheless, this was a great experience.



The next day, Roberta took us to the The Museum of Zoology and Natural History, La Specola, University of Florence, where we continued the anatomical observations. However, this time, the artefacts were 3-dimensional and made in the 18th Century rather than from the 16th Century. The items in question were anatomical wax models with idiosyncratic expressions. They were in equal measures tantalisingly beautiful examples of human artistry and utterly grotesque corporeal representations. We found out that the museum was first opened in 1775 to the public rather than solely the elite, highlighting that it was rather progressive for its time. We were also curious as to why the wax has not melted or the colours faded since then. Roberta, one of the few experts on the history of ceroplastics and wax figures, explained that if kept in the right conditions (cool, dry environment) wax is a durable material to use. She was the president of the “International Congress on Wax Modelling” in London last year, the first congress on this topic since the 1970s (the first one was held in 1975 in Florence at the Museum of La Specola).

Prof. Fausto Barbagli, one of the curators of the Natural History Museum, also gave us a guided tour of the “Observatory” (Ex Osservatorio astronomico 1780-1789, restored and opened to the public after 150 years thanks to Prof. Barbagli), which offered a delightful view of Florence. We were shown an instrument that used the sunlight and a pinhole to measure the earth’s movement. For astrology lovers, there were also references to the zodiac signs all around the room. 



Another highlight was a visit to Bill Viola’s exhibition, “Electronic Renaissance” at the Palazzo Strozzi. This involved remarkable interactions between Renaissance masterpieces and contemporary video art, amalgamating and appreciating fine art mediums on a universal and timeless scale.


During our spare time, we did some sight-seeing, making the most of exploring Florence and learning about the extensive historical and cultural attributes of the city. Some of us visited Michelangelo’s acclaimed David, the Duomo, the Medici Palace and Boboli gardens, Dante’s house and the Uffizi gallery, housing masterpieces like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Da Vinci’s Annunciation. Others preferred to delve into the contemporary art scene of Florence. Whichever route we took, we could always agree on meeting for pizza, pasta, gelato and Aperol Spritz in the evenings!     

Overall, the trip to Florence was inspiring and insightful, enlightening us about the origins of Art and Science as disciplines, along with how they have evolved since the Renaissance days. Undoubtedly, this experience will lead to creative endeavours and collaborations in the future!

Comments from students:


Tere Chadwick:

‘’It was an incredible experience. It wouldn’t have been the same without Roberta Ballestriero”


Caglar Tahiroglu:

‘This trip was a good collaborative experience as we had the chance to visit the studios of the Fine Art Academy in Florence, as well as meet with tutors and student. We also had the opportunity to present our work. It seems that we made some long-lasting liaisons as students invited us to their exhibition afterwards and I certainly intend to keep in contact with them!”