Catalysing Creativity | Sciennes Place

Image courtesy of Honza Turnovsky

‘Catalysing Creativity: Stories of Change’ is a new digital exhibition curated by ASCUS Art & Science presented as part of the 2021 Science Festival, highlighting molecular science and artistic approaches as a lens through which to investigate the concept of change and the interconnectivity of people and our planet

Honza Turnovsky and Dr Amanda Jarvis

Sciennes Place

Honza Turnovsky and Dr Amanda Jarvis began their collaboration visualising the proteins Amanda works on, through drawing, which they subsequently formed from clay. Using these visual models Amanda described her research, which brings inactive proteins to life by introducing reactive metal complexes into its structure. This sparked a memory for Honza of a story about Golem, a man made of clay by Jewish mystic, Rabi Loew and ‘activated’ by a magic formula known as ‘Shem’. The pair became fascinated by how the theme of activation manifests in different forms and connects their practices and processes.

Presented here are cyanotypes, printmaking and ceramic objects that use visual storytelling techniques as a device to create new points of access to Amanda’s research and questioning, what are the implications of unnatural activation of dormant powers in science and culture?

Presented by ASCUS Art and Science in partnership with ScotCHEM

Read more about ‘Catalysing Creativity: Stories of Change’ here

Honza Turnovsky:
Dr Amanda Jarvis:

Online Exhibition

Viewer guidance: Please click on the text and images in the gallery below to view this online exhibition in full screen mode on your browser

Credits: 3D print, printed by Dr Logon Mackay and Dr Faye Cruickshank. School of Chemistry Mass Spectrometry Service, University of Edinburgh

The Collaborative process…

Honza Turnovsky and Amanda Jarvis connected at ‘Art & Science on a Postcard’, a knowledge sharing workshop hosted by ASCUS Art & Science in 2019 and have stayed in conversation since.   Their project began with the two drawing models of proteins which they formed from clay, a material visual artist Honza uses often in his art practice together with various analogue and digital photographic processes. Honza learned of Amanda’s research into artificial metal enzymes, aimed at bringing inactive proteins to life by introducing reactive metal complexes into its structure. 

This sparked a memory of a story from Honza’s childhood in Bohemia, a story about Golem, a man made of clay by Jewish mystic, Rabi Loew and ‘activated’ by a magic formula known as ‘Shem’. The pair became fascinated by how the theme of activation manifests in different forms and connects their practises and processes.  Their project uses a visual storytelling technique through cyanotypes, printmaking and ceramic objects as a device to bring accessibility and wonder into Amanda’s research. The themes within the story of Golem are explored to provide a safe place to question the ethical framework behind the unnatural activation of dormant powers within chemistry as well as art and culture.

Honza Turnovsky
Artist Statement

Honza Turnovsky’s artistic practice explores various ecological issues. Work includes, ‘Green Man’, a studio photography project which explored misleading ecological claims on product packaging. ‘Chiquita Scotland’ was another photography project which visualised the effect of global warming in Scotland by photographing tropical plants inserted in typically Scottish natural landscapes. His first degree show continued using a form of staged photography and focused on site specific sculptural intervention, ‘Portable Places’, which playfully highlighted contrasts between human culture and nature.

When his degree show was damaged during the Glasgow School of Art fire, Honza created a new body of work reflecting his interest in Japanese ceramics. During a residency at Camberwell College of Art, London he extensively researched blue and white patterns of Arita porcelain at the V&A Museum, London. Honza created a series of large scale blue dye photograms/cyanotypes called ‘Dishes’ which transported a Japanese ceramic design theme into a field of fine art. Honza and Amanda met at the ASCUS event, Art & Science on a Postcard in January 2019. They discovered that behind both of their practices is a shared interest in sustainability.

Read more about Honza’s creative practice here:

Dr Amanda Jarvis
Scientist Statement

Catalysts are vital to everyday life. They are special molecules which participate in a chemical reaction to speed it up but are not consumed in the process. They enable scientists to make the products we depend on like medicines, clothing, fuel and plastics. Enzymes are nature’s catalysts: proteins that have evolved over time to be highly selective catalysts that control exactly which bond in a molecule reacts. Chemists have long sought to mimic enzymes in pursuit of the ideal catalyst for a sustainable chemical future providing for society’s needs. Making artificial metalloenzymes, by combining enzymes and traditional metal catalysts, presents an exciting opportunity to extend the reactions that enzymes catalyse from those used by nature to those needed to make chemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Dr Amanda Jarvis studies the design of novel metal centers into protein scaffolds to create artificial metalloenzymes. The biological nature of these artificial metalloenzymes allows for the rapid evolution of the catalysts towards exceptional selectivities and activities that cannot be obtained with just the metal catalyst itself, thus reducing waste and energy costs. Ultimately, we wish to explore the use of these artificial enzymes in cell based chemical factories that can produce complex molecules directly from sustainable feedstocks, i.e. agricultural waste.

Through the art/science project, Amanda saw parallels with the story of Golem in the work she does in bringing inactive proteins to life by introducing reactive metal complexes into protein scaffolds, creating new catalysts for sustainable chemistry.

Read more about Amanda’s research here:

‘Catalysing Creativity’ comprises two creative commissions supported by ScotCHEM in collaboration with ASCUS Art & Science, and in partnership with researchers at The University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University.

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