A guest at the gallery taking a picture of one of the pieces of art

A new installation of art inspired by medical sciences will open at Centrala gallery in Digbeth, including works drawing on patients’ experiences and latest research.

The exhibition which opened on Friday 7 June sees 12 artists including West Midlands locals display work in a range of mediums all inspired by research conducted at and funded by the University of Birmingham. Each of the artists taking part in the annual artist residency which is now in its fourth year have been matched with teams of scientists supported by the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine to creatively reinterpret the research project and inspire new ideas for the researchers’ work.

Professor Clare Anderson, Centre for Human Brain Health, University of Birmingham who leads one of the research teams involved said:

“This is the first time I’ve been involved in embedding an artist in science, and it has been such a wonderful experience. Ian Andrews was an incredible artist to work with: personable, interested, insightful, and of course, the art he has created is amazing.”

...link[ing] artists and researchers together provides unique opportunities to better understand and have fresh insights into work which is changing human lives for the better

Dr Caroline Gillett, Manager of Artist-in-Resident programme
Male guest looking at one of the pieces of art in a gallery of work inspired by medical research

Home-grown talent


Many of the artists selected to bring a fresh interpretation to medical research also bring their own local dimension to the collaboration, with eight hailing from the Midlands region.

Among them is Tom Ellis who runs a creative company Curious Oddities and his work is inspired by fantasy, myths and storytelling. Tom’s artwork is inspired by research on bacteria calls and new ways of tackling antimicrobial resistance. The project led by Dr Sara Jabbari is creating a computer model of a bacterial cell that could help researchers in the future target a process that leads to antimicrobial resistance.

Shannel is a passionate visual artist also based in the West Midlands and uses vintage furniture and traditional African fabric as a canvas for visual storytelling bringing. Shannel’s installation comes from a partnership with researchers developing a predictive model for psychosis that addresses inequalities in access to early intervention.


Other artists include:

  • Simon Peter Green, an artist photographer who has previously worked with musicians such as Wu-Tang Clan and Kanye West, and has worked with researchers on a graphical interpretation of studies on DJ beatmatching and the interplay between mind and body to coordinate rhythm; and
  • Alex Billingham, who is using their lived experience of being disabled, trans, and neurodiverse to consider better modes of survival, combining Live Art / Experimental theatre and film / digital work within their practice. Alex’s art in this exhibition, a short film and 3D computer game, is inspired by AI and the human brain.

Dr Caroline Gillett, Assistant Professor in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement at the University of Birmingham and manager of the Artist-in-Residence programme for SMQB said:

“Art is a powerful and wonderful way to communicate the projects that the SMQB are funding each year, and the chance to link artists and researchers together provides unique opportunities to better understand and have fresh insights into work which is changing human lives for the better.

“The exhibition promises to be a vibrant and hands on experience which is not to be missed.”