Impossible Views - art and science come together... by Grace Davis

Impossible Views – it sounds rather like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it? Something that couldn’t possibly exist or be seen? Well, in fact: it does and it can! Impossible Views is the name of a new exhibition created out of a partnership between the BGS and Quarrylab, a local artist development organisation. The exhibition features a diverse collection of paintings, drawings, video, audio and mixed media by various artists, all centred around combining art and science together, as well as items from the BGS collections.

I went to see the exhibition myself this week as I prepared to start work on getting the word out about the show. Serendipitously, my arrival happened to coincide with that of several of the artists themselves, there to plan for a private viewing that took place on July 11th. Roy Pickering, artist, painter and founder of Quarrylab, stopped to speak with me about what was going on and how the exhibition had come about. He explained that this partnership between the BGS and Quarrylab is pretty unusual – its aim is to take science and art and focus on the similarities between them, and the ways in which they can complement each other. Professor Mark Rawlinson, a member of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham and one of the artists featured in the exhibition, recently wrote “From the laboratory to the artist’s studio, the work of the artist and the scientist appear rooted in similar practices, are allied to similar processes, and rely upon similar modes of thinking. And both seem concerned with revelation, the revealing of something hidden or previously unknown.”

During my look-around I met artist Paul Harraway. He showed me the pieces he had contributed and talked about his time spent in Derbyshire and at Siccar Point in Scotland, sketching and drawing in the countryside.

Speaking to Paul, I found myself thinking about the contradiction that his work had managed to capture: the scenes before me looked like completely natural landscapes, full of greenery and gently tumbling slopes. However none of this had happened organically: these sites were created by human hands, by the years of quarrying and earthworks that had taken place there.

For me, these ideas were the heart of the exhibition: the combination of natural and human-made, the hidden landscapes of quarries, both active and in ruin, and the connection that can be drawn between what we do here at the BGS and the work that goes on in artists’ studios everywhere.  To find out more about the materials collections at the BGS visit our collections webpages.

Impossible Views is open to the public every Friday from now until 13th July. Why not pop along and take a look at this unique combination of art and science? For more information call 0115 936 3143 or email