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Annie Cattrell, Peter Fraser, Tim Head and Nicky Hirst: Salt Bridges

Oxford University’s Department of Biochemistry commissioned a new building from Hawkins\Brown Architects to provide state-of-the-art research facilities and an outstanding host environment for its academics, students and visiting researchers.

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The department worked in partnership with consultant artist Nicky Hirst on a programme of art commissions for the building in order to create an outstanding permanent collection of contemporary art within a world-class scientific research department, facilitate interdisciplinary discourse between artists and scientists, and provide new approaches and resources for public engagement with the arts and science.

Salt Bridges is a phrase Hirst encountered during her initial research period in the department. 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 between artists and scientists.

Commissioned by the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford in association with the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Artpoint Trust and Louise O’Reilly Visual Arts and supported by funding from Arts Council England, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.