BA logoConnecting science with people
Exeter pupils experience the art of the brain
Image courtesy of MRC
For immediate release
13 May

Pupils at schools around Exeter will be exploring science and medicine through art in a project for the BA Festival of Science when it comes to Exeter this September. The project by artist and biochemist Lizzie Burns and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) will see Lizzie visiting fourteen local schools from May to June.

In Lizzie’s workshops, students will learn how the brain works and what it is made of, seeing microscopic images of neurones (cells in the brain) and images of the brain responding to emotions.

Students will then make a neurone on a particular theme chosen at random, for example happiness, pain or anger. They will combine their neurones into collages which will be displayed at the University of Exeter during the BA Festival of Science (6-11 September) and then at Exeter Cathedral from 12 September.

“The brain is made up of 100 billion neurones,” says Lizzie. “The idea behind asking students to work together to create a collage is to reflect how the brain works. Just as the students will be working together to create their own neural network, so cells in the brain work together.”

Two years ago, the MRC commissioned Lizzie to produce a series of paintings inspired by the scientific work it funds. In her workshops, she will be working both to explain the science of the brain to the pupils but also encouraging them to explain science through art. Lizzie believes this is important both for encouraging an interest in science at a young age and reaching children who might otherwise turn away from science.

“Children are particularly good at blurring the distinction between science and art,” says Lizzie. “I have spoken to a number of eminent scientists who have all said that they got into science at a very early age, usually before secondary school. Hopefully these workshops will spark the children’s imaginations and inspire them to take up science in the future.”

“Lizzie Burns’ work is an interesting and valuable contribution to encouraging an interest in science,” says Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science). “For a long time the BA has been involved in engaging and inspiring young people in science and we are very pleased that Lizzie is bringing her work to the BA Festival of Science.”

The BA Festival of Science will be in Exeter from 4-11 September. Further information, including a searchable programme of events, can be found online at the-ba.net/festivalofscience.


1. The BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) is the UK's nationwide, open membership organisation dedicated to connecting science with people, so that science and its applications become accessible to all. The BA aims to promote openness about science in society and to engage and inspire people directly with science and technology and their implications. Established in 1831, the BA organises major initiatives across the UK, including the annual BA Festival of Science, National Science Week, programmes of regional and local events, and an extensive programme for young people in schools and colleges. For more information about the BA, please visit the-ba.net.

2. The BA Festival of Science is the UK’s longest-established science festival, attracting over 300 speakers and has been taking place since 1831. The BA Festival of Science takes place from 4-11 September at the University of Exeter. For further information, visit the-ba.net/festivalofscience.


WEEK 1 (17TH – 21ST MAY)Monday 17th: Central Church of England Middle School - Mrs Billington 
Tuesday 18th: John Stocker Middle School – Carol Blatchford Wednesday 19th: St Nicholas Catholic Combined School – Mr McCloskey Thursday 20th: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School (Exmouth) Mr McCloskey Friday 21st: Stoke Hill Middle School – Mrs Jan Edhouse

WEEK 2 (7TH – 11TH JUNE)
Monday 7th: St Michael’s Church of England Middle School -  Sally Chandler
Tuesday 8th: The Redhills Combined Community School – Mr Price Wednesday 9th: Exwick Middle School – Janet Branch Thursday 10th: Ladysmith Middle School – Miss Rowden Friday 11th: Whipton Barton Middle School – Miss Laurence Brewer

Monday 5th: The Topsham School – Mrs Lineham
Tuesday 6th: Countess Weir Combined School – Miss Lea Doyle Wednesday 7th: St Sidwell’s Church of England Combined School - Miss Diamond Thursday 8th: Pinhoe Church of England Combined School – Mrs Firth