Bodies of Movement

Bodies of Movement was a solo show commissioned by Arts Council England in conjunction with Ely Cathedral Science Festival. The festival aims to bring science and religion together to put forward the premise that they are not in opposition. It aims to bring us back to a time of the natural philosophers, when the investigation into the natural world was synonymous with the worship of God.

Taking Newton’s Principia and Darwin’s Origin of Species as a point of inspiration, Bodies of Movement brought together the worlds of physics and biology through sculpture, video and drawings. Motion, structure, form and scale are at the heart of this work and it aims to raise questions about an underlying code that connects all of us to each other.

Notions of growth, development, refinement, adaptation and movement are central to the work both from a biological perspective and one of a more far-reaching, philosophical standpoint. The exhibition serves as an exploration into evolution of form and the dance of chaos and chance to produce emerging order.

The centrepiece of the exhibition was a a site-specific installation, Helix which was developed in collaboration with Dr Francis Lister.

The vertical, spiral installation references the DNA double helix structure that contains the blueprint for all organic life. Helix hangs from the Octagon Gallery at the very heart of Ely Cathedral, an appropriate positioning for the symbol of a biological mechanism that connects all of us.

Helix brings together biology, chemistry and physics to comment on the elegance and complexity of nature, while highlighting the connectivity of the cosmos.

The use of weights and pulleys draw upon Newton’s third law of motion, emphasising the duality of opposing forces in motion. This suggestion of the constant movement and conversion of energy, again references the notion of continual and unending progression of change and transformation, further establishing the theme of evolution. 

The structure of Helix is created by an array of weighted wires set at various heights, attached at regular intervals to two central cables. Structure and geometry are used to illuminate how the chemistry of the building blocks of life give rise to form and function, allowing symbiotic systems to thrive.

With an appreciation for the biological information contained within DNA, Carr and Lister encoded information into the Helix through colour, adding another level of discovery for those wishing to delve deeper.

The 2D works are a mixture of drawings and mixed media reliefs, showing the preparatory investigations into repetition of form, cell structures, membranes and surfaces which are further developed with emerging depth in 3D works, demonstrating the evolution of simple to complex forms and how atomic structure gives rise to form.

Energy transfer and momentum are shown through a sense of movement present in all the works, highlighting the notion of entropy and potential energy. This tension provides the push, the pull, the wound up tension and the forces at play that keep things in flux and motion.

I invite the audience to ponder on the connectivity in the cosmos, uniting the very large and the very small, from single celled organisms to the motion of planetary bodies, through the building blocks of matter and the fundamental laws of nature.


Bodies of Movement is supported by Arts Council England and is part of the Ely Cathedral Science Festival 2017, Creative Awards, Ebbsfleet Engineering Services, KEMP London, GF Smith, Factor M and Rosie Reed Gold Photography.

For more information and educational resources please visit www.bodiesofmovement.com