The Vale of White Horse District Council, who commissioned the artwork, have a public art strategy that identifies the area around Didcot as a World Class Science-Scape. During the community consultation exercise for the artworks we sought personal responses from local people and organisations to this overall theme. We aimed to determine and reflect on what the theme meant to them and how it might be interpreted into durable and permanent artworks integrated into the structure of the new building.
The consultation for the design of the artworks consisted of a series of meetings, workshops and presentations with the following local organisations – Aureus School, UTC Oxfordshire, Gems Primary School, Northern Community Centre, GWP Church and the GWP Residents association.
People generally encouraged bold and imaginative artworks and welcomed the chance to contribute and influence the development of the artworks.
The research began with the question - “What does science mean to you?”
This question led to widespread discussion and debate followed by clay workshops where people modelled ideas around the nature of science. Issues such as not knowing what the future might bring, the unexpected, and that often research into one area provides new thinking in other areas. How science is about using curiosity to reveal the extraordinary.
A wide range of ideas were expressed reflecting the many different aspects of science and the fact that it has unlimited possibilities. We explored how this might be represented – that sense of the unknown that inspires scientists to seek out solutions to impossible problems. The question was how to find an image to represent the possibility of the unknown being revealed. This led to the idea of a theatre curtain, an image that expresses the idea of unknown possibilities – a metaphor for curiosity.
Scientists also recognise that in discovering new ideas we are opening our eyes to things that already exist, but we have not discovered or seen yet. The curtain symbolises both the idea of revealing new discoveries and also seeing what we have not seen before, it’s a symbol of unlimited potential, an image that engenders a spirit of enquiry and curiosity.