I am writing to let you know that your proposal for the European City of Science Artist in Residence has not been selected.

I’m sorry if this is disappointing news. Thank you very much for your interest in the project and we appreciate the time and effort that you put into your application.


– It showed weaknesses in relation to the activity’s public engagement outcomes.

We noted that: It was not clear how the project would produce good artistic outcomes. More convincing public engagement plans would also have strengthened the application.



Discussion and Public events

Sunday 17th April 1pm – 4.30pm

As part of our on-going discussion and exploration of Performance and the Public Realm, we are staging an event that will sit alongside the main festival and will promote discussion and evaluation of the role of public performance in the context of contemporary cultures in Preston. These events are here for any interested members of the public to engage in discussion with professional art makers and curators of live events :

Maddy Costa

Open discussion and lunch for artists and public.

Preston as city of low cultural engagement ?

Media Factory pm – 2.15pm – 4.15

Regarded a cold spot for arts and culture, a panel of local and national artists will be discussing Preston’s cultural past, present and future in the shadow of its rather ignominious mantle. Open to the public and artists alike and hosted by The Guardian Theatre blogger and journalist Maddy Costa – come and join the debate.


I’ve recently enjoyed engaging audiences directly through performing the phrase ‘A Penny For Your Thoughts’ (5 hrs per day, over 66 days). Sitting on a pavement wearing a suit, my ‘stage’ highlighted by a hazard taped hula hoop, framed by the art venues behind, the gesture of giving juxtaposed a stereo-typical street exchange with a saying rarely seen only said; creating an anomaly which questioned expectations, sparked curiosity and incited collaboration. This project broke down the distinction between ‘art’ and ‘science’. Arts Council England’s (ACE) support confirmed it was art and I’m an artist. Doing the saying confirmed an audience would engage. Using my initiative I planned and delivered an outcome within the budget and timescale I proposed whilst effectively communicating with a wide range of people. During 29,028 (2013), walking ‘two steps forward, one step back’, up and down The Harris Flights (a temporary installation of stairs leading to the first floor balcony of The Harris Museum and Art gallery) an audience member questioned the physics of the flights, suggesting they weren’t steps – an accurate observation as they were re-appropriated stadium seats.

My interest in ‘art’ and ‘science’ originated whilst studying psychology: trying to comprehend anecdotal ‘individual differences’ with the scientific requisite for statistical significance in a sample space. At about the same time I saw Mark Quinn’s work Self (1991) and thought “I could do that” – express ideas visually. The word and is essential to breaking down the distinctions between ‘art’ and ‘science’, it isn’t one or the other but black and white, yin and yang, nature and nurture, waves and particles, a continuity. Quantum Physics suggests sameness, a wave is a particle and vice versa but what we see depends on the act(ion) of observation. Beuys alleged we’re all artists but we could replace artist with scientist. Both begin with observation, elicit critical thinking and require repetition. We test things.

This commission would benefit my artistic development by enabling me to continue working full time as an artist, without seeking alternative employment. A successful residency creates confidence around my practice and a CV requires an accumulation of evidence, proof. I can do this because I did that; one example, one anecdote, one single piece of data is not enough, it may have been luck. This process is similar to scientists submitting articles for peer review. Embedded as AIR in the frame of this festival is an opportunity to operate and relate in the ‘contact zones’; build bridges between the science, the scientists and the audience, creating the conditions to connect, co-operate and collaborate. An initial idea for directly engaging the public would be to ask questions about the science behind complementary pairs of phrases. Is there some scientific ‘truth’ in hackneyed housewife heuristics handed down through generations? Do too many cooks spoil the broth? Or do many hands make light work? In The Cannon: The Beautiful Basics of Science Natalie Angier suggests everyone should buy a stereo microscope[1] “to examine the decidua of everyday life”. Ninety nine years ago Ernest Rutherford discovered how to split the atom, the audience and I could see split hairs (heirs) under stereo microscopes testing the language of our daily lives to give a new perspective about the way our world and our words work, to produce an artistic response.

[1] “The stereo microscope is an optical microscope designed for low magnification observation of a sample, typically using light reflected from the surface of an object rather than transmitted through it.”



I am writing to let you know that the selections have been made for our remaining three residencies. The quality of applications was very high indeed and we had a longest of over 35 artists, any of which we’d have been happy to select. I’m delighted to say we’ve selected:

As I say many of you were very close to being selected, so I hope you’ll join the Art House email list, or follow us on social media, so you can hear about future opportunities. The link is http://www.the-arthouse.org.uk/newsletter