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Researching Resistance

Image: Dr Lihong Zhang ©Simon Ryder/artNucleus.

The Researching Resistance exhibition developed from a collaboration between investigative artist Simon Ryder and the University of Exeter’s AMR network, and has been curated by Dr Kelly Thornber. Featuring portraits of members of the Network, Ryder’s artistic response illustrates that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an issue that goes beyond disciplinary, societal and national boundaries. The collaboration built on a 2020/21 Creative Fellowship supported by the University’s Arts & Culture programme and hosted by the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health.

Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, is an issue developing on a global scale, sometimes referred to as the “next pandemic”.  Microbes that cause infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants (also known as ‘superbugs’) are becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs we currently use to treat them. Despite substantial global effort, there has been little progress in the development of new antimicrobial drugs for over 30 years. 

Jointly-funded by the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology and the initial Provost’s Fund grant that helped to establish the University of Exeter AMR Network, fifteen members of the AMR Network, spanning the breadth of subjects and career stages, were invited to feature in a series of photographic works. Drawing on images and words that relate to participating individuals’ research, the exhibition presents a series of portraits that, in themselves, are a creative response to the challenges of AMR and a celebration of those whose work is helping to address those challenges.

AMR is one of the research strengths of the University, and a number of AMR Network members are affiliated to the ESI, including Dr Thornber who had the original vision for this project, and Dr Lihong Zhang, who is one of the featured researchers. Researching Resistance will be on display in the ESI Creative Exchange, Penryn Campus from 14 January – April 2022 and can also be viewed online via the Arts and Culture website.