– Queen Mary University of London

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Tyson W. Sharp is a professor of cell and molecular biology at the Queen Mary Barts Cancer Institute. In his piece, OVERCROWDINGhe explores this year ‘s theme of The climate through his experience as a cancer researcher and self-taught abstract artist focusing on overcrowding and viral infections. OVERCROWDING will be on display at the Royal Academy from today (June 21) to August 21 in Room VIII, a room containing prints specially selected by artist Grayson Perry.

The Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open-air contemporary art exhibition, held every year without interruption since 1769. This year, the Royal Academy received over 15,000 entries, of which about 1,200 works will be exhibited in various media. This was the first time Tyson presented his work at the Summer Exhibition and both of his entries were shortlisted. OVERCROWDING is selected for exposure.

For the past 20 years, Tyson has been working on his art along with his research. Much of his work as an artist is closely linked to his research on viruses and cancer, grant applications and the scientific papers he writes. Often his frustration with our lack of understanding of the biology of cancer, human health, and human condition drives his work.

Tyson hopes his work will inspire people – from other researchers to members of the public – to pursue science through art. He said:

“I grew up with the idea that science and art are not compatible subjects – you can be good at one thing but not the other. When I was in school, I couldn’t go to art classes because science and art were scheduled at the same time. So I had to make a difficult choice.

For me, my art is now so intertwined with my research. I started painting and then these scribbles became more complex as my scientific career progressed. This has become part of my research process – it allows me to engage in my research at different and sometimes deeper levels and often helps me make sense of the chaos and complexity of cancer biology, research and academia. My art is a tool in my research as well as a form of therapy for my well-being in the workplace.

Now I have hundreds of little scribbles / art sketches that I hope to one day turn into bigger pieces that would be great to share with everyone. I hope that my work encourages others to engage with science through a variety of media, and I hope that it will change perceptions of the value of art within the scientific process, as well as showcase some of the cancer research we do at Queen Mary. ”

Following his success at the Summer Exhibition, Tyson hopes to find funding to continue his work and use it as a means of engaging people with cancer research and science in general.

The story behind OVERCROWDING

When he decided to present art for this year’s summer exhibition, Tyson took a small piece of paper from his desk, on which he had previously written four handwritten words related to his research. As we consider this year’s thematic summary of The climate and the four words he had written, he realized that this might be the beginning of a new work of art.

First, the Boeing 777 represents the jet industry and related problems with pollution, fuel use and the constant demands of the population for more travel and how harmful it is to our climate. Second, the two phrases “CMV” (cytomegalovirus); and the ‘virus’ are closely linked to the pandemic and how overcrowding and travel have been an integral part of the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world. Finally, ’29you June was a date he had written, but he could not remember the original reason for it. However, realizing that the work would be exhibited in June, Tyson thought and hoped that this work was intended for the exhibition. With these ideas and thoughts, Tyson set about creating visual images to limit and divide both the population and the viral epidemic with geometric shapes. His need to create order where there is chaos in the context of overpopulation and viral infections collide in the azure blue and minimal black of the work.

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