12th November 2021- 29th January 2022

The Old Operating Theatre, 9a St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY

Museum & Exhibition open Fri + Sat 10.30am – 5.00pm (last admission 4.15pm).

To book in advance go to: https://oldoperatingtheatre.com/visiting-us/

Sunnydown Synaptic is an innovative outreach project & exhibition which brought together neuroscience, electronic engineering and visual arts for a dynamic series of workshops with students from Sunnydown School in Surrey. A glass and light installation – Synaptic – in the Old Operating Theatre’s Herb Garret, arising from the workshop programme.

Sunnydown Synaptic captures the unique perspectives and experiences of students with communication and interaction needs through their own exploration of brain anatomy, cell connections and circuitry using sculpture, movement, collage, robotics and lasers.

These workshops and installation are a collaboration between artist Charlie Murphy, engineer Robin Bussell, scientists Dr Leigh Wilson, Professor Richard Wingate, PhD students Sally Horton and Sara Ratti of the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at King’s College London, and language and learning specialist, Jo Wood of Sunnydown School.

The installation, created from upcycled laboratory glass and student programmed laser displays, lodged in the rafters of the unique Herb Garret museum, creatively transforms principles, processes and materials used in research labs to illuminate how brain cells connect and communicate. The dramatic artwork showcases how students imagine their own neural connections as electrifying, intricate light trails, drawn with robotic lasers.

The project was designed to forge valuable exchanges between science, art, engineering and young students. These activities highlight the relevance of creative engagement and its importance in understanding and refining the stories that explain and clarify research into Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Sunnydown Synaptic convincingly demonstrates how science and art interactions can act as compelling and effective vehicles for students to express opinions, feelings and reflections about their own experiences and current research into brain development and neurodiversity.

The Sunnydown Synaptic project is part of the Mediculture Festival and is kindly supported by Kings’ Small Public Engagement grant & the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Team London Bridge, SC1, The Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garrett,  Sunnydown School,  The Artists Agency & Chemglassware Ltd. 

Editors notes:

Dr Leigh Wilson and Professor Richard Wingate have an extensive track record of successful public engagement projects and sci-art projects. Dr Wilson is Public Engagement Coordinator for the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, while Professor Wingate is Director of the Centre for Education (Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine), Principal Investigator MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Editor-in-Chief of Brianfacts.org. http://bit.ly/cndd_pe | http://bit.ly/cdn_outreach | Arts, Health & Wellbeing @MRC_CNDD  @dev_neuro Brainfacts.org

Charlie Murphy is an artist and educator who creates dynamic installations, exhibitions, performances and public engagement activities across arts and science contexts. Her work is widely exhibited in the UK and internationally. Synapse originates from ongoing sci-art project Brains in a Dish: www.charliemurphy.co.uk     www.brainsinadish.org

Robin Bussell is an R&D engineer who develops bespoke technologies, hardware and software design for the emergency services sector and a wide range of sci-art projects.  He brings over 35 yrs knowledge of robotics, image processing, sensors, 3D printing and light technologies to a wide range of sci-art projects with Charlie. Their award winning collaborations as The Photonic Excitors include public engagement activities, artworks and educational tools. @thephotonicexcitors

Sunnydown is an outstanding special school in Surrey catering for young men in KS3 and KS4 who have a statement of SEN or an EHC Plan which identifies Communication and Interaction needs as a primary need. Many students have autism. Sunnydown’s uniquely specialised support helps many achieve success both academically and socially. Led by Jo Wood and her Academic Support team, this project has engaged 19 students across all years. https://www.sunnydown.surrey.sch.uk

The Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garrett is an atmospheric museum which offers a unique insight into the history of medicine and surgery. Predating anaesthetics and antiseptics, it is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. Housed in the attic of the eighteenth-century church of the old St Thomas’ Hospital, access is through a narrow 52-step spiral staircase. www.oldoperatingtheatre.com 

Team London Bridge is a Business Improvement District (BID) established in 2006 which currently has over 400 business members in the London Bridge area. Team London Bridge’s Vision is “to make London Bridge one of the most sustainable, culturally innovative and compelling places for business and tourism in the world” www.teamlondonbridge.co.uk    www.atlondonbridge.com 

SC1: Founded by King’s Health Partners, Lambeth and Southwark councils, and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation, SC1 is on course to be considered one of the most productive innovation districts in the world. The ingredients to succeed are in place. Our track record of close collaboration has delivered tangible results through world-leading physical and mental health services, research, education, and innovation. 

Contact info:

Monica A. Walker, Engagement & Front of House Manager The Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garrett email : monica.walker@oldoperatingtheatre.com

Dr Leigh Wilson, Public Engagement Manager MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders email: leigh.wilson@kcl.ac.uk

Charlie Murphy, Artist email : charlie@charliemurphy.co.uk

Jo Wood, Academic Support Sunnydown School email : j.wood@sunnydown.surrey.sch.uk

Amanda White, Mediculture & Team London Bridge email : Amanda@teamlondonbridge.co.uk


Sunnydown Synaptic: Journeys, Emotions + Brainstorms
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