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Hidden in plain sight: invisible from the surface + invisible to the eye

Hidden in plain sight: invisible from the surface + invisible to the eye

17 January - 21 February 2020

Hidden in Plain Sight is a photographic journey into the subsurface of Cornwall’s mining heritage. Cornwall’s landscape hides more than ten thousand abandoned mine shafts and tunnels, which have developed their own unusual ecologies. Photographer, caver and mine explorer Hugo Glasier has been collaborating 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). Their project documents the hidden microbial life that inhabits Cornwall’s underground environments, and explores how microbial life contributes to the formation of unique rock and mineral structures. The exhibition includes a series of photographic prints of the mining environments and micrographs of microbes and film samples, revealing the structure, pattern and colour of subsurface life. 


Hidden in Plain Sight is part of an extended programme of art-science collaborations on the topic of Underworlds, hosted by the ESI Creative Exchange from January-June 2020. In a series of four projects, artists and researchers are exploring themes of the underground, the undersea, the hidden and the microscopic. Collaborators will use scientific techniques and creative practices to better understand the habitats and behaviour of subterranean and submarine lifeforms, and work with earth pigments and ocean sediments to produce visual representations of invisible or inaccessible worlds. Several of the projects engage with the specificity of the Cornish landscape, and its legacy of mining and mineral extraction


The Creative Exchange is co-funded by the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and the University of Exeter's Arts and Culture programme.