Reflections on the RCC Events at the Arts & Science Festival, 8th – 9th June 2019

During the opening weekend of the Arts & Science Festival, several Research and Cultural Collections staff and volunteers facilitated various events across campus at the University of Birmingham. Detailed here are some reflections from the experiences over the weekend learning about the Sculpture Commission, the Green Heart festival, and finding out more about all of the exciting upcoming events that will be taking place throughout 2019 – 2020.

On the 8th and 9th June 2019, Research and Cultural Collections led several events that formed part of the wider Arts & Science Festival programme and launch of the Green Heart. This weekend was also kicked off with the formal opening of the Outdoor Exhibition on the Green Heart, which features a display case for the four finalists who have been chosen for the new Arts & Science sculpture commission. This coincided with the opening of the free Rotunda Exhibition for the sculpture commission in the Aston Webb building, and over this opening weekend several of the events were held within this space.

Many of the events involved the finalists for the sculpture commission, who you can find out more about via the Arts & Science Festival website (and cast your vote for your favourite!), and were all free events offered to everyone visiting campus that weekend. This was a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to meet the artists and others working across campus, but also for the staff and volunteers to get a chance to hear more about the artist’s proposals and their work, particularly for those of us who work on other projects and collections!

This included free talks by artist Andrew Gillespie and Hipkiss & Graney on their work and the inspiration behind their proposals for the sculpture commission, a free talk on the Barbara Hepworth Sound Sculpture from Emma Margaretson and Nikki Sheth from the Department of Music, and other free events including a lino cutting print workshop from finalists Juneau Projects, and a guided workshop from finalists Intervention Architecture presenting their proposal for the Green Heart and touring the campus.

On Sunday 9th June an afternoon event also featured four artists from the Radical Sabbatical residency programme,a collaboration of Research and Cultural Collections and Eastside Projects’ ESP associates scheme, which brings creative practitioners and academics from across the University of Birmingham together.

This ranged from talks and workshops with artists Kelly Large, Leah Carless, Priya Mistry and Brian J Morrison, who have been working with academics in response to research themes including Common-Wealth and The Unconditioned Mind. Attendees to this event particularly enjoyed sitting together as a group and creating, sharing and experimenting with various materials and tools. We enjoyed listening to their experiences of the process, and viewing their final results!


The University campus was full of people throughout weekend, and it was a really great experience to see people engaging with the sculpture across the campus and the Green Heart. This time of year at University is often mixed with events reflecting the various stages of the student life cycle, with examinations almost over and the Graduation Ceremonies beginning – to see the wide range of campus celebrations during what is a really exciting time for the Research and Cultural Collections department was particularly special. The staff and volunteers who helped to facilitate these events really enjoyed being part of the weekend!