The Spine

"Flow of conversation between pedestrians"

SPINE is an initiative led by the University's global Engagement Team. It aims to provide new routes into Lancaster's globally significant research by connecting Lancaster academics with artists and exhibiting the results on the kilometre-long pathway running through the centre of Lancaster University’s campus. The spine is the main walkway through the campus, connecting academic departments, professional services and facilities. The architects of the University designed the spine so that it would follow the natural gradient of the land. The main architect, Gabriel Epstein believed that steps would hinder the flow of conversation between pedestrians.

The Spine is the perfect platform for highlighting international and interdisciplinary collaborations and encouraging exploration of research, experimentation and conversations between residents and visitors of the campus. SPINE aims to spark these conversations and explore the fusion of arts and academic research. This is a place for innovative experiences and meaningful conversations.

Throughout the year, different artists are connected with new academics to create a rolling programme of free exhibtions. The next edition of SPINE begins on March 18th 2020 with: "a.r.t.i.c.u.l.a.t.e.".

Archive image of the spine showing students walking to lectures
‘Pedestrians on the North Spine’ by John Donat from: Marion E. McClintock:’ University of Lancaster: Quest for Innovation’ (1974)

March 2020: a.r.t.i.c.u.l.a.t.e.

Professor Adam Taylor and J.R. Carpenter

a.r.t.i.c.u.l.a.t.e is a poetic response by J. R. Carpenter to the international research of Professor Adam Taylor. Anatomically speaking, humans the world over are much the same on the inside. Yet most of us know very little of the inner workings of our bodies. a.r.t.i.c.u.l.a.t.e uses the poetics of everyday language to articulate concepts in anatomy. How can large-scale sentences affixed to brick and glass walls on campus engage the walking body with the SPINE as a physical, textual, and conceptual space? How can a turn of phrase cause a body to pause for a beat, to consider anatomical structures such as limbs, lungs, blood and their functions in day to day things like drawing breath?

J. R. Carpenter is an international award-winning writer and interdisciplinary artist working across performance, print, installation, and digital media. Her pioneering works of digital literature have been presented in museums, galleries, and festivals around the world. Her digital poem The Gathering Cloud won the New Media Writing Prize 2018. Her poetry collection An Ocean of Static was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2018. She was Artist in Residence in LICA at Lancaster University in November 2019. She will be Writer in Residence at the University of Alberta in Canada September 2020 – May 2021. For more information about her work, please visit her website.

Professor Adam Taylor is an international multi-award winning educator and researcher with extensive experience in local, national and international public engagement projects. He is currently leading the world's largest ever study on what people know about anatomy. More information about his research is available here.

an anatomical image of a human heart

How to see it

a.r.t.i.c.u.l.a.t.e. will appear along the spine and in the Library from the 18th March. J.R. and Professor Taylor will be conducting a guided walk of the exhibition, ending in the library; J.R. Carpenter will also be delivering a zine production workshop at which audience members can produce their own zines responding to the exhibition and Professor Taylor's research. Spaces at both of these events are limited so please register below to avoid disappointment.

"What is fascinating about this project is that it takes very high quality scientific data from instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope and turns that data into something that is more about emotion and experience. The artist communicates our science on new levels and perhaps even encourages people who may not be interested in the pure science to engage in our science through a new route“.

A quote from Professor Jim Wild Physics, Lancaster University