Discovering42 CIC is about using art as a catalyst for engaging adults and children with physics, engineering and environmental issues. We will create thought-provoking exhibits that encourage visitors to explore through play, imagination and ingenuity. Join us on the journey to create a permanent grassroots science museum for Cornwall.
Setting up Reimagining Reality Exhibition
Reimagining Reality is an innovative exhibition for Cornwall that merges science with art and sustainability. The immersive experience is the vision of Roy and Natalia Jones, a husband and wife team who have worked with local volunteers and artists to craft the exhibits from waste materials.
Natalia studied psychology and environmental management at university and Roy had studied video production. Together they co-run a successful video production company, working with clients such as National Trust and English Heritage. When Covid hit, all work was delayed and they were left with a lot of time on their hands to reflect and reconnect with their values and plans for the future. After the death of Roy’s mum earlier in the year, it made them both aware of how precious life is and how we need to seize every moment in life.
“We had both felt for a while that we wanted to do something positive for our community, we had a list of ideas that we were often adding to, but it wasn’t until we thought of setting up a science and art center that it really struck a chord with both of us. In the first few days, it was hard to sleep as we were so excited while we researched and came up with different ideas!” Natalia Jones
Natalia and Roy knew that with a lack of experience in this industry, they would struggle to raise millions to create a stereotypical science exhibition and they would need to think outside the box to create something different, yet equally engaging.
“With our video production company, we have always been pushing the limits of what we can achieve within budget for our clients. We knew we had some transferable skills and enjoyed collaborating with creative practitioners to bring a vision to fruition.” Roy Jones
Natalia and Roy thought more about how they would create the science and art center and it became clear to them that it was important that it would be created in an eco-friendly way. Natalia was particularly interested in recycled art. At high school she had won a prestigious award for a sustainable installation. At university, her dissertation was on the importance of recycled art for behaviour change. She also helped to set up, ’The Redistribution Project’, which mobilised fellow students to collect, clean, store and pass on unwanted kitchenware to new students. Over two years, they managed to stop 16 tonnes of unwanted belonging going to landfill.
“It is crazy the amount of perfectly good stuff that ends up going to landfill, from food to electronics, especially when there are so many in need and with the our ever expanding demand on resources that causes biodiversity loss and climate change. It feels good to make use of things and it can be a beautifully creative process to deconstruct used objects into functional parts, shapes and patterns and to see the potential and beauty in things. I really enjoyed taking old window blinds, embracing their imperfection and playing with their patterns to make the backdrop for the sand pendulum” Natalia Jones
Natalia and Roy started talking to different people within the community about their plans. Fin Irwin from intoBodmin was particularly helpful with giving advice and support. In September 2020, the couple registered Discovering42 as a Community Interest Company with plans laid down to create a grassroots science, art and sustainability center.
“As we floated our idea with others, it became clear that there was a real need for it. Some teens in our village had never even been to a science museum before. The nearest science museum is over two hours drive away in Bristol and is too expensive for many people.” Roy Jones
In October, Natalia and Roy set up a crowdfunder and were able to secure match-funding from Cornwall Council through Carbon Neutral Fund and Creative Calling as well as Community Chest Fund. They also received a FEAST grant and sponsorship. Once they reached their target, they started writing an Arts Council Funding bid with the help of Florence Browne. The last piece in the puzzle was Bodmin Town Council who provided t6months use of Narisa Hall, which is nestled in Priory Park.
“Crowdfunding is very challenging, it’s awkward to ask friends, family and strangers for money. Many of us are more comfortable buying a product than supporting someone with an idea, especially if it is a bit different! It’s not often you hear of someone wanting to set up a science and art center!” Roy Jones
Narisa Hall, nestled in Priory Park had been unused for the past 4 years and they have received a lot of curious looks as they have been carting doors, ducting pipe and mirrors into the building over the last two months. The Cornwall Scrapstore has been a valuable resource to find the materials needed for the exhibition. The funding enabled them to commission artists, Thomas and Gary Thrussel, Dominic Allen, Reuben Evans, Jan O’Highway, Jack Stilling and Alexa Marshall to transform found materials into valuable exhibits. They have also included artwork form Emily Whitfield-Wicks, Daniel Lewis and Nicky Linzey.
“Our family thought that we were mad to try set up a science and art center. Although spending time setting up Discovering42 was a risk, everything that you do is a valuable learning experience. No matter what the outcome is, we won’t fail because we have already learnt so much and met such amazing people along the way. If we could have seen how much work would go into creating the exhibition, maybe we would have backed away, but actually it has been fun and you do everything in steps, which prepares you for the next. Although it has been challenging and costly for us in many ways, you would pay and spend many years doing a university course to learn something new and we have learnt a lot from this experience!” Natalia Jones
The exhibition turns the hall that looks quite small and unassuming from the outside into a Tardis. Natalia and Roy designed a one-way system out of old doors to make the most of the space and to ensure it was Covid safe. It takes about an hour to go round as you are lead through surreal passageways filled with interactive exhibits that demonstrate peculiar science, which at times leave you completely stumped as to how they even work. Favourites amount the visitors include the reverse waterfall, a rainforest mirror room, magnetic marble run, bike-powered record player and a mechanical wall.
“It’s been such an exciting process to see our ideas come to fruition and it feels so good to see families playing and learning together. Science is so important, especially at a time when we need to have a clear understanding of climate change and to be devising innovative solutions. There are also many science related jobs offered in Cornwall.” Roy Jones
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If you would like to help us make Discovering42 a permanent feature in Cornwall, you can donate here.
Discovering42 is about empowering us all to come together and share ideas. We want people to feel like they can be an active part of visualising and creating solutions.
At Discovering42, we believe that we don’t need to have all the answers, we just need to want to make a difference and start somewhere. We need to make mistakes, experiment, learn and adapt as we go.
If you want to be part of the action, get in touch. There is so much to do and we would love you to be part of the team. You can be involved as little or as much as you like. Let’s have a chat to find out what you are passionate about, what you enjoy doing or would like to try out and develop! We really look forward to hearing from you.