Sheffield set for 11 days of magic and marvel in first Festival of the Mind
The world’s first festival of academic-city collaboration, Festival of the Mind, sets up in Sheffield next month for 11 days of free events to entertain and enlighten.
From 20-30 September 2012, 35 groundbreaking collaborations between academics from the University of Sheffield and local people in the creative and cultural industries will entertain visitors, showcasing the spectacular possibilities when local talent combines with academic expertise.
Academics from such diverse disciplines as Nanotechnology, English, Architecture, Psychology and Biomedical Science have teamed up with artists, poets, magicians and musicians from Sheffield to create unique, thought-provoking performances, events and exhibitions designed to stimulate the mind.
The civic projects all arose from an Ideas Bazaar held at the University last year, where academics and members of the community were invited to a speed-dating style event to match proposals and ideas for projects to knowledge and expertise to make them a reality.
A day of family fun including street artists, sideshows, music, magic and storytelling will officially launch the festival on Thursday 20 September from midday to 5pm in Weston Park. Festival of the Mind events will then take place throughout the city, the centre of which will be in Barkers Pool in a beautiful 1920s cabaret-style ‘Spiegeltent’ – a large travelling tent decorated with mirrors and stained glass, one of the few left in the world following their 19h century heyday.
Hoping to change the way Sheffield views itself, A City in Context, will see specially commissioned films by Sheffield’s Human Studio, incorporating the work of Professor Danny Dorling, shown across the city throughout the duration of the festival on state-of-the-art 4D screens for free.
On 26 September Is Science Magic? in Barkers Pool from 6-8pm will explore the magical possibilities promised by new sciences such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology. These sciences promise invisibility cloaks, shape-shifting objects that make themselves, and miniature robot surgeons to cure all our diseases. But can science, like the promise of magic, solve all our problems and realise our dreams? Professor Tony Ryan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science and Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, will explore some new science that looks like magic, but is very real, as well as finding some unexpected historical connections between the worlds of science and magic.
The public are invited to witness the UK’s leading master of misdirection, magician Steve Faulkner, showcasing the psychology of magic with Dr Megan Freeth, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Dr Gustav Kuhn from Brunel University, who specialises in visual cognition and eye-tracking. Magic and the Mind, a show of magic and the science behind it will take place on 23 September in Barker’s Pool. Later in the festival, historians and magicians will draw visitors into the secret world of magic at Magic in the City, in Weston Park Museum on 25 and 27 September.
An event entitled All Sorts of Wickedness on 22 and 23 September in Barker’s Pool will see the history of Sheffield’s Manor Lodge come alive. The event will see the University’s Department of Archaeology work with Point-Blank Theatre Company to dramatise their research findings into the Tudor hunting lodge where Mary Queen of Scots was famously held captive.
University of Sheffield’s Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage will judge a city-wide poetry competition on the theme of space. The winning entries will be launched into space from Weston Park on 20 September using technology developed by students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Mind-Out, a collaboration between a Sheffield artist and an academic from the Department of Psychology has led to a 10 day exhibition of live art, painted around the audience as they watch, by robotic devices specially constructed for the event. Taking place at the Creative Arts Development Space (CADS) in Shalesmoor, the project has involved developing robotics and control systems for a mechanical paint spraying system and will culminate with the live production of urban artwork on a grand scale by an army of robots.
Performances of Sheffield poetry and imagery of the city will form the heart of WordSurge Sheffield. From 22 to 29 September, Butcher Works exhibition space will display photographs, videos, sound recordings and paintings of the city of Sheffield. Poetry readings will be performed by amateur dramatics groups throughout Sheffield city centre in flash-mob style on 22 and 29 September and performances by poets Helen Mort, Agnes Lehóczky, Carolyn Waudby and Rob Hindle will take place in the Butcher Works' Fusion Café from 4.30pm on 29 September. The poems will also be distributed throughout Sheffield on lampposts, shop windows and bus stops.
The humble zebrafish, an unsung hero of much human health research, will be the subject of events at the Jessop West Exhibition Space on 28, 29 and 30 September in an event entitled Fish for Science. An installation and demonstration in which the public can use microscopes to view fluorescent fish, with scientists on hand to explain current research, will highlight the crucial role of the tiny creature in helping scientists understand human health and disease.
A street performance outside Sheffield Town Hall on Friday 28 September from 10am – 4pm will investigate the story behind the character perched on top of the Town Hall roof. Tracing the Footsteps of Hephaestus will involve the staging of an archaeological dig outside the hall and interviews of the public as they are drawn into the investigation to try and solve the mystery.
The University’s Alfred Denny Museum will open its doors to the public for a series of lectures from world-renowned bird expert Professor Tim Birkhead, exploring the history of the museum’s objects and the characters involved in their stories. Tours of the museum will coincide through the weekends of Festival of the Mind, giving the public access to the stunning zoological collection housed in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.
Hoping to attract over 1000 children, a collaboration between the University’s Faculty of Engineering and the team behind the ultimate racing car will bring a life size model of the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car, to Fargate and Tudor Square on 25, 26 and 27 September. Visitors will be able to see the jet and rocket powered car designed to smash the World Land Speed Record, capable of reaching speeds of over 1,000 miles per hour, make their very own balloon-powered models and take Bloodhound SSC for a spin in the driving simulator.
A mini festival of Philosophy will take place in Barker’s Pool on 21, 24, 26 and 28 September with five public talks on the philosophy of magic, science, city and craft. Another mini festival taking place at Barker’s Pool from 24 – 29 September will be City Poetry at Breakfast, with readings of Sheffield-based poems held each morning and evening. A pamphlet entitled Sheffield and the Poetry of Street to accompany the event will be available at the readings and disseminated in city libraries, bookshops, schools and universities.
Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “Our University and our city are overflowing with ideas. Now, with Festival of the Mind, we have the perfect opportunity to come together and celebrate that. The festival is the result of months of hard work and true collaboration between University staff and Sheffield’s vibrant creative community. The Festival of the Mind promises to capture the spirit of invention and collaboration and the love of ideas that makes Sheffield such a wonderful place to live and work.”
Director of Festival of the Mind, Professor Vanessa Toulmin, who has been the driving force and curator behind the innovative event, said: “Festival of the Mind is about bringing the city and the University together through wonderful creative projects. It’s about inspiring people, about bringing the magic of our research through the creativity of our partners to the people of Sheffield.”
Festival of the Mind
Festival of the Mind is a collaboration between the city and the University of Sheffield which will showcase the University’s cultural strengths by bringing together research staff from the University and the cultural and creative industries in the city, through a series of high impact knowledge exchange partnerships. The Festival of the Mind is for everyone - the general public, academic colleagues and the professional and cultural quarter.
Five themes have been identified for the Festival of the Mind to enable individuals to highlight cross-cutting research which can be linked to outreach and wider collaboration in the city: Magic, Space, Identity, City and Craft.
The Festival will also mark the official launch of Civic University, a celebration of the University’s strong connections in the city and its founding principles to put knowledge to work for the good of others. This practical approach inspires collaboration across subject areas and with individuals, businesses and organisations beyond the University to solve the more pressing problems we face, both close to home and around the world. Events take place between 20–30 September 2012. For further information and the full programme, visit:
Festival of the Mind
The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK´s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen´s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom´s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.
The University's research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046