Sayward Morley worked as Artist-in-Residence at Nowgen for one year – starting in October 2004. This project aimed to consider new perspectives by using artwork to explore human genetics. Sayward was asked to develop her own pieces and involve others in creating artwork too. It was quite challenging to encourage others to express themselves, but very rewarding to bring other people into the creative process. The post was funded by a grant received from Novartis Foundation and was organised through the Genetic Interest Group (now known as Genetic Alliance UK).
Workshops for patient support groups
A series of workshops were run to enable families affected by genetic conditions to come together to enjoy art-based activities. The workshops aimed to look at issues such as family relationships, communication issues and feelings towards identity. They used approaches such as puppetry, music, sculpture and collage.
Workshops in schools
These workshops allowed young people to learn about subjects that are important to the modern worldand participate and contribute to the debates on these topics. Sayward developed three workshops on: Stem Cell Research, Genetic Testing and Identity. The Identity workshop proved to be the most popular and opened up the debate about difference and bullying. Sayward delivered this workshop at many schools across the region.
Nowgen’s Artist-in-Residence also contributed to the CESAGen Media, Culture and Genomics event for A-level students. Sayward delivered a workshop which focused on comic books at Lancaster University. It also explored TV programmes that report on extraordinary people, such as the six stone baby or the boy whose skin fell off. The teenagers created their own comic book cover or cartoon strips from these provocative titles.
Finally, Sayward worked on a long term project with two Year 10 Art groups at Prestwich Arts College. They created a mural for the reception area of National Genetics Research Laboratory (NGRL) at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester. The pupils explored the way genetics can influence both a person’s identity and physical appearance.
Artist’s Own Work
Sayward produced an exhibition to showcase the work produced within the residency. It was called ‘Identify’ and it opened on 7 October 2005 (to coincide with Jeans for Genes Day) and it was held at The Nowgen Centre. The exhibition included work produced by patient support groups, school children and the artist’s own artwork. It also reflected the time Sayward spent at the National Genetics Research Laboratories (NGRL) as an observer, taking photographs and talking to people about their work. She chose to focus her exhibition on what genetic tests could identify and the testing possibilities.
To find out more, please download the end of project report (6392KB).
Download the summary of the project (presented at the British Society of Human Genetics Conference) (3671KB)