Celebrate 100 Ideas at King’s Buildings

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In 1919, the University purchased West Mains Farm for the relocation and expansion of its science departments. King George V laid the foundation stone for the first building; the Department of Chemistry, in July 1920, and so began the life of King’s Buildings.

To celebrate the centenary of these buildings, the University began planning a series of events and lectures including the commission of Ideas (2021) by renowned Scottish artist, and Edinburgh College of Art Alumna, Katie Paterson. The celebrations – known as KB100 – had been due to take place last year but were postponed because of the pandemic.

This month, Ideas (2021) has been launched across the campus. The work thoughtfully combines Katie’s observations of science with art, to celebrate King’s Building’s 101-year anniversary, which is home to the College of Science and Engineering.

The artwork, which is designed as a permanent part of the campus and University Art Collection, features 100 three-lined sculptural texts cut from stainless steel, which have a similar feel to haikus.

In producing the work, Paterson drew inspiration from talking to, and collaborating with, research scientists based on site. Each text sees the artist questioning the limits of what is real and what is imagined in the scientific realm.

Glasgow-born Paterson explains the works are intended to take shape in the imagination of whoever reads the words, so becoming an individual’s expression of the idea itself.

Paterson said: “King’s Buildings has been a playground of ideas for a century. The abundance of makers and thinkers across time has led to insights, visions, new perceptions, great and small, in fields from astrophysics to sustainable forestry. There couldn’t be a more apt context in which ideas are experienced.”

The artworks are intended to be discovered as people journey round the campus, with some hidden in green spaces and others tucked inside lecture theatres. The overall effect is to lead the viewer on an intriguing treasure hunt to find the next thought-provoking piece.

Accompanying Ideas (2021) is an online map – inviting staff, students and visitors to find all 100 artworks as they explore the campus, whether familiar with it or not.

The University Art Collection has previously acquired other artworks by Paterson. Ideas, along with all the artworks in the Collection are available for use in teaching. Browse these works in the collection by Paterson.

More information on other KB101 events you can get involved with can be found on the College of Science & Engineering website.

Photography: Callum Bennetts, Maverick Photo Agency