Salt Bridges is an ambitious contemporary arts programme that was integrated into the new building designed by Hawkins\Brown for Oxford University's Department of Biochemistry.
Located in the University's Science Area in central Oxford, adjacent to the Pitt Rivers Museum and the University Parks, New Biochemistry provides state-of-the-art research facilities and an outstanding host environment for visiting researchers, students and the public. We worked with the department, consultant artist, Nicky Hirst, the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art and Artpoint on a programme of commissions for the new building with the following aims:
• To create an outstanding contemporary art collection within a world-class scientific research department
• To facilitate inter-disciplinary discourse and opportunities for artists and scientists to extend their practice and experiment
• To involve artists in the intellectual life of the department
• To provide new approaches and resources for public engagement with both the arts and science
Salt Bridges is a phrase Nicky Hirst encountered during her research with the scientists. In protein chemistry it refers to ion pairs, a form of strong interaction between oppositely charged residues. As a title for the art programme Salt Bridges refers literally to a fragment of biochemistry research and metaphorically to the dynamic relationships it is supporting between artists and scientists.
Award-winning contemporary artists Annie Cattrell, Peter Fraser and Tim Head joined Nicky Hirst to create a number of site-specific artworks.