STEP Through the Looking Glass - Telling Research Stories through Art


Artist, Lorna Donlon will work with 10 researchers and 2 patient advocates from UCD Conway Institute to tell research stories in a very creative way for a touring exhibition.

The project, STEP Through the Looking Glass: Stories Told of Experimental Processes is one of 47 projects to recieve funding under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD.

Images of science objects in cabinets

Lorna Donlon held an artist-in-residence position in UCD Conway Institute during the 12 month period from October 2020 – September 2021, funded through the UCD Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund in partnership with UCD Parity Studios. 

This project builds on the work done during that residency and will tell research stories using everyday objects as storytelling devices. Each exhibit will include a photographic image of a researcher or patient advocate and two objects; one that best defines their work and one that is personal to them. 

There will be explanatory text about the people and their objects; audio recordings of Lorna in conversation with the researcher / patient advocate speaking about their chosen objects; and a display of the physical objects themselves. 

These works will form part of an exhibition with an associated digital visitor experience. The physical exhibition will display in clinical and community settings across Ireland with a digital version also available. 

Announcing the funding, Minister Harris TD said: “These projects will have an invaluable impact, starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. Through initiatives such as the SFI Discover Programme, we must support the public to have access to, and understand, the issues that impact our collective future, and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions. I wish all the recipients every success in the rollout of their projects.”

The €3.7 million funding will be focused on encouraging diversity and inclusion in STEM, while also targeting a wide range of ages including young children, teens and adults.

Speaking of the projects co-funded by the Department of Education, Minister Foley said: “We are pleased to collaborate with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science by supporting five projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme. These projects are designed to grow and encourage participation in STEM education and public engagement, inspiring our young people to explore STEM roles in the future. I want to congratulate all of the individuals and teams involved in their work to date on these projects.”