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Combining Art with Science: a new Cornish museum?

by Jessica Forsyth

On a sunny day in Cornwall there are plenty of activities to enjoy outdoors, whether it be a long walk along the coastal path or a refreshing dip in the sea. But on a day where the weather is not so pleasant, there is a lack of indoor activities to turn to, particularly for those with young and inquisitive children.

Discovering 42 are a community interest company that have recognised this and believe that Cornwall would benefit greatly from the opening of a museum that combines art with science and sustainability.

They are currently raising funds via their Crowdfunder page with the aim of setting up a pilot exhibition for a period of 6 months. During this time, they hope that high footfall will prove that there is a keen interest and desire for this type of attraction and hope to go on to make it a permanent fixture for the region to enjoy.

On their website, Discovering 42 state that they ‘want to challenge the misconceptions that art is frivolous and science is perplexing’. In other words, they wish to demonstrate that art can be an extremely effective and captivating method of conveying important messages. In this particular instance, they aim to use the skill and talent of local Cornish artists to create exhibits that will be, where possible, crafted using recycled or waste materials. They wish to show that when you combine art with science, you are able to engage people on issues they might not have otherwise shown an interest in, in a much more effective way.

Indeed, some of the most memorable pieces of artworks I have seen are where an artist has used their skill and talent to convey a message of importance, typically a message related to an environmental issue or issue of sustainability. One such example is a piece of art known as “Skyscraper” which is a sculpture of a whale made of over five tons of plastic that was found in the Pacific and Atlantic ocean. This sculpture was designed by architects and designers from STUDIOKCA and has been toured around the word. 

I think there is much to be said for the pairing of art and science. Looking back in history, art has long been used as a method for documenting scientific discoveries or progression. An example of this is of Marianne North’s paintings of tropical plants. In her 40’s, Marianne decided she would travel the world and document the worlds flora through paintings. She was an acquaintance of Charles Darwin, who is said to have considered her paintings as excellent examples of his theory of natural selection. Her paintings can be seen to provide a visual accompaniment that aid the understanding of the writings of Darwin, once again demonstrating the benefits that can result from the coupling of art with science.

Cornwall is undoubtedly  ‘a region with creativity at its heart’ and has provided the world with exceptional engineers, scientists and artists. Having a museum where this can be celebrated and recognised would be a great asset to the region and contribute to achieving progress on the CSC’s key ambition of increasing the number of people who are actively engaged and involved with science in Cornwall.

Of course, Cornwall has many other museums to offer that showcase various cultural and historical aspects of the region, such as its maritime links and mining history, that are all worth a visit. In fact, the CSC is currently working closely with the Cornwall Museums Partnership to find a way to support the virtual showcasing of such attractions. So, if you’re interested in finding out more about some of the interesting museums that Cornwall has to offer, do keep your eyes peeled for more information in the coming months!

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