Skip to main content

The Creative Exchange Programme

Creative Exchange

Creative Exchange

The Creative Exchange Programme facilitates collaboration between creative practitioners and researchers on our Cornwall Campuses who share an interest in issues of environment and sustainability.

The programme inspires new research relationships and stimulates opportunities for public engagement and collaborative learning. We work closely with University of Exeter Arts & Culture and other initiatives that seek to develop the region’s creative industries.

In 2020-2021 we curated a virtual exhibition featuring Creative Exchange legacy collaborations.  During the 2021-2022 academic year we will be hosting a series of established art-research collaborations and developing a new programme of activities for early career researchers and creative practitioners. For more information, please contact Caitlin DeSilvey or Kate Pennington Wilson.

If you want to be kept in the loop about Creative Exchange events and opportunities please contact our admin team: 

    Current Collaboration                      Upcoming Collaborations

Our Disappearing Darkness and Recreating True Night

Ninety-nine percent of the population of the United States and Europe experience light-polluted skies to the point that well over half of them can no longer see the Milky Way. Artist and educator MJ Sharp, who has been making large-format, long-exposure photographs for over a decade, is collaborating with Professor Kevin Gaston to explore this ‘disappearing darkness’ as part of a 2021/2022 Fulbright award. 


During the 2021-2022 academic year we will be hosting a series of established art-research collaborations and developing a new programme of activities for early career researchers and creative practitioners. For more information, please contact Caitlin DeSilvey or Kate Pennington Wilson

Image: 'All Washed Up' © Liz Franklin in collaboration with 100 school children.

UoE Arts & Culture

The ESI Creative Exchange programme is jointly funded by the ESI and the University of Exeter's Arts and Culture programme. The Arts and Culture team work across the colleges and campuses of the University of Exeter, and with creative partners around the South West region and beyond. 

Previous collaborations


2021 marks almost a decade of the ESI Creative Exchange, to celebrate this fascinating programme of creative collaborations, we’re delighted to be working with Exeter Arts and Culture on a stunning new online exhibition called Catalyst.

We have developed a virtual gallery where you’ll be able to navigate through a series of spaces to view photography, creative writing, visual art and film all exploring issues of climate, environment and sustainability. Launching on Earth Day (Thursday 22nd April), the exhibition will feature artworks of twelve previous Creative Exchange participants, which have been developed since their original collaboration.

Image: Towards Field Station Catalyst Remix © Bram Thomas Arnold 2021

Painting a Parish Future

Painting a Parish Future is a collaborative project by ecological artist Peter Ward and Senior Lecturer in Politics Dr Joanie Willett. The project explores the importance of ecological engagement to political process through interdisciplinary workshops and research. Workshops involve group sharing, walking and participation in a communal painting using locally gathered earth pigment paints in response to specific local ecologies. Events were held in Pendeen and Gorran Parishes in Cornwall with the support of the Economic and Social Research Council and as part of the Creative Exchange Programme at the Environmental Sustainability Institute, Exeter University.

Rare Earth

In 2020 painter Bridget Roseberry and painter and sculptor Katrina Slack collaborated with Professor James Scourse and researcher Alejandro Roman-Gonzalez from the University of Exeter on 'Rare Earth', an immersive online exhibition inspired by an Antarctic research expedition taken by the academics in 2019. The work produced by Roseberry and Slack explored microscopic worlds in the ocean and on the ice whilst simulataneously drawing attention to the effects of climate change on the Antarctic environment.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This exhibition ran from 28 February - 3 April 2020 as part of our Underworlds series. Dr Tim Cockerill and Dr Elze Hesse worked together to produce of a series of large-scale macro photographic images visualising the effects of social and environmental cues on swarming behaviour in a model bacterium.


From January-June 2020 the ESI Creative Exchange will host an extended programme of art-science collaborations on the topic of UNDERWORLDS. In a series of four projects, artists and researchers are exploring themes of the underground, the undersea, the hidden and the microscopic. 

Image provided by Pete Ward

Hidden in Plain Sight

This exhibition ran from 17 January - 21 February 2020 as part of our Underworlds series. Hidden in Plain Sight was a photographic journey into the subsurface of Cornwall’s mining heritage. Photographer, caver and mine explorer Hugo Glasier collaborated with Laura Newsome (an ESI-based geomicrobiology lecturer), Tomasa Sbaffi (a PhD student studying the microbial communities living in Cornish mine waste), and Carmen Falagan Rodriguez (a researcher in the ESI geomicrobiology laboratory). 



A Stitched Survey of the Dyer's Garden 

Christiane Berghoff worked on an area of the walled garden on the Penryn Campus, planting and nurturing a variety of plants selected for the purpose of botanically dying textiles and for their value to insect pollinators. She worked in collaboration with PhD student Will Hawkes, an environmental biologist at the University of Exeter whose research is concerned with recording the migratory behaviour of insect life. 

Food for Change exhibition

The Food for Change programme used food to inspire individuals to learn new skills and to progress into work or education. Participants in the programme used photography to document their experience of gaining new food skills through workshops with community chefs and growers in Cornwall.

Pretty Useful Solar Panel Artwork

Art and Energy artists Chloe Uden and Naomi Wright collaborated with post-doc researcher Katie Shanks to challenge the aesthetics of silicon solar PV in order to re-imagine solar panels as places for artworks of the future.



A Transect for Trelowarren 

Bram Thomas Arnold is an artist who started with walking and kept going, into performance, installation, drawing, academia, broadcasting and writing. Walking has become the foundation of his transdisciplinary practice, a practice that does not restrict itself to traditional notions, boundaries, mediums or modes of practice: it is an ecological form of practice that is simultaneously Conceptual in its methods and Romantic in its outcomes.


Deep Materialism and Caretaking 

Dr Alison Harper (environmental textile artist) and Dr Sarah Chave (honorary researcher in the University of Exeter Graduate School of Education) collaborated to explore the human use and abuse of the material world.

The Wave Energy Harvesting

This collaboration artistically presented mathematical and engineering research outcomes related to ocean wave and wind energy extraction through the use of wave and wind energy converters.

See Shells and Climate Change

A collaborative project by ceramic artist Jake Boex, climate scientist Professor James Scourse and Phil Dyke (National Trust Coast and Marine Advisor), this exhibition explored our emotional reaction to climate change.


In July 2018 seven families took part in ‘Retreat’, a creative residency to imagine and design how to live when lives are radically affected by climate change. They came together as climate refugees fleeing their flooded homes to gather in a holding camp, where they had to reinvent ways to meet their basic needs and figure out how provide things they had taken for granted.

Sail Against Plastic

Sail Against Plastic, a pioneering team of scientists, filmmakers, photographers and artists, made an expedition to the Arctic to determine the levels of plastic pollution making its way there on ocean currents. 

Visible Mending

On the 19th October the ESI hosted an event which looked at the importance of repair in the circular economy and the fantastic work that is happening around Cornwall to repair our much-loved items. The evening included talks from Stefano Pascucci, ESI Professor in Sustainability and Circular Economy, on ‘Community, Circularity and Innovative Practice’, and Pete Halswell, Falmouth & Penryn Repair Café Chair, on ‘The First Cornish Repair Café: Origins and Outlooks’.

Kurt Jackson at the ESI

An exhibition of Kurt's work celebrating his new painting Taxonomy and Biodiversity being installed in the ESI and the reinstallation of water sculpture Cornish Trembling Sea Mat. Read more.

Melting Pot

The University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) hosted the Creative Exchange Programme’s ‘Melting Pot’ on 19 April 2018. The event brought together local creative practitioners to discuss and develop new collaborations with University of Exeter research staff. Details of future Melting Pot events will be posted here. Read more.

Rock Paper Scissors - When Microbes Play Games

Rock, Paper, Scissors – When microbes play games was a graphic novel telling the toils and hardships of a cunning little virus triumphing over its enemies with the help of a valiant knight. It illustrated the intense struggles between viruses of bacteria and their bacterial hosts.

Contaminated Soils in Ceramics

This Creative Exchange project forged links between scientist Dr Elze Hesse and ceramic artist Fleur Winter with the aim to bridge their fields through the use of research material and fired ceramics.

More than Food

The exhibition was a collaboration between the University’s Social Innovation Group, distinguished photojournalist Paddy Dowling, and local foodbanks. Reflecting on lived experiences of foodbank use, the images and stories illustrated the complex circumstances at play and the power of localised forms of care.

Stuart Townley - The Mathematician and the Artist

The Mathematician and the Artist featured Prof Stuart Townley’s landscape paintings that he reinterpreted digitally. By viewing these paintings as models we use to represent and interpret reality, parallels can be drawn to Stuart’s computer-based mathematical models of the environment. Read more.

Resilient local food systems in the Tamar Valley

Rosie Fierek’s artwork is inspired by the work that Tamar Grow Local undertakes in the area - stimulating and incentivizing local food production and consumption - and research by ESI researchers Gloria Salmoral and Xiaoyu Yan on water-energy-food nexus in the EPSRC funded WEFWEBs project. Read more.

Bee Health: Audio Immersion

Juliet Osborne and Lauren Holt from the ESI facilitated a representation of honey bee data into a contemporary cello piece with an interpretive piece of music for both healthy hives, and those affected by pesticides and disease played by Oak Matthias. Read more.

6000 Flowers

'6000 Flowers' was an arts collaboration between Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB - Richard Hardy), the ESI (Dr Grace Twiston-Davies) and artist Jodie Purcell. Read more here.


Natalia Eernstman, artist, researcher and project manager for Golden Tree, collaborated with the ESI on various projects concerning coastal change, extreme weather and community resilience. Read more here.

Goonhilly Village Green

Through the Goonhilly Village Green (GVG) project, artists Sara Bowler and Elizabeth Masterton worked with academics and students at the ESI who are conducting research on the Lizard Peninsula's Goonhilly Downs. Read more here.

Soil Culture

Artist Marissa Lee Benedict was awarded a Soil Culture residency to work with researchers in the ESI in August 2014. The residency was delivered by the ESI in partnership with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW). Read more here.

Crafting Stability, Tipping Points and Chaos

Dr Markus Mueller and Samantha Gerlach’s collaborative project sought to translate dynamic-behaviour mathematical models into crafted objects; these were creative interpretations of the concepts of stability, tipping points and chaos. Read more here.

Foreign Soil

Jonathan Bennie, ESI Associate Research Fellow, collaborated with artist and writer Gabrielle Hoad to identify and exploit microclimates where edible dessert bananas might be grown outdoors in the South West. Read more here.

All Washed Up

All Washed Up was a collaboration between Dr Matthew Witt, a lecturer in Natural Environment within the ESI, and Rame Peninsula Beach Care (RPBC), a beach cleaning group from South East Cornwall.  

Natural Alchemy

he Natural Alchemy project, a collaboration between Chris Bryan and Oliver Raymond-Barker, is an exploration into process. Read more.

Reshaping Fashion Norms

This project, a collaboration between Clare Saunders, Sue Bamford and Irene Griffin, looked to ask: how might fashion norms be re-shaped so as to reduce the environmental and social impacts of fashion?. Read more here.

Night Walks

The collaboration between Hannah Guy and Thomas Davies took place between May and December 2013 and stemmed from the ESI research project, ECOLIGHT, which investigates the aesthetic, environmental and human health impacts of artificial light pollution. Read more here.

X-Ray Art and Design

Chris Thorn, who joined the ESI as the inaugural Creative Exchange Affiliate in February 2013. Produced the X-Ray Art and Design projecting collaborating with a number of researchers in the ESI. Read more here.