Meet our postgraduate researchers: Lucy Smith

Published on 18 August 2021

Lucy is exploring the subject overlap of Art and Science and how Art - particularly kinetic sculpture and musical performance, might find pathways to visualising abstract concepts.

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What did you do before starting your research degree at Dundee?

I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design with a first class B.A. (Hons) Fine Art degree in the summer of 2019; before that I was a teacher for some thirty years!

Subject leader in Art and Music. However, the majority of my curriculum time has been spent teaching English and Mathematics, in the Primary age range.

What is the focus of your current research?

Finding pathways towards accessing maths and science, particularly abstract concepts, through kinetic sculpture.

What first got you interested in your research topic?

A passion for improvement in education, following the reduction of timetabling of art and music in the primary school curriculum over recent decades. It has led me to explore how abstract mathematical or scientific concepts can be made accessible to a wider cross-section of society through a multi-mediums approach, such as kinetic sculpture or music.

What has been the most positive aspect of your research degree so far?

The excitement of subject exploration, the employment of a practice-based approach, and the opportunity to collaborate with others from different subject backgrounds and different schools in the university. The openness of the DJCAD technicians to support me through problem solving in the design and make aspect of kinetic sculpture has been particularly positive. I am excited by the possibility of exhibiting my sculpture in DJCAD and elsewhere in the UK if possible.

What has been the most challenging aspect so far?

Covid interruptions, though I have been overcoming these through adaptation and flexibility. Also, learning about subject areas in maths and engineering that I have not encountered before has been a challenge. Understanding how to make kinetic sculpture stand up in space.

How are you hoping your research will benefit others?

I hope, at least indirectly, to influence the policy makers and initiate a conversation in the wider public domain as to the value of art in accessing abstract concepts. I hope to bring to the broadest forum the value of art in its uniqueness and breadth of language, and its power in communication by visually and audibly shedding light on physical phenomena, enhancing comprehension of such phenomena and enabling people to enjoy finding out about the wonder of the world and universe in which we live.

What advice would you give to other postgraduate researchers?

Enjoy it! Talk to others; engage with groups, particularly your research hub; get involved in the wider university community and keep making connections. Enjoy the reading, research and making process. Nothing is insurmountable, just ask for help if it is needed.

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