The Launch Event

The opening of the Look 200 took place across two venues. The launch of the exhibition of paintings took place in the early evening at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.  It was a great success and very well attended with interesting speeches reflecting on the hospital residency and the exhibition by Brian Chapman of Lime Arts, Wendy Gallagher of Manchester Museum, Professor Rob Lucas of Manchester University’s Faculty of Life Sciences (who features in some of the paintings), and Peter Mount, outgoing Chairman of the Hospital Trust who has been a brilliant advocate for the project throughout.

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The sister exhibit of objects that relate to the project then opened at Manchester Museum as part of an ‘After Hours’ evening of vision themed activities that I was excited and honoured to curate.

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At the museum throughout the evening there were opportunities to participate in fascinating activities exploring vision from interesting angles: experience augmented reality as you could investigate what it is like to see as if you were colour blind; explore your sense of touch with the Museum’s haptic object handling machine and learn everything there is to know about the history of spectacles with Manchester Royal Eye Hospital’s resident expert, Stephen Golding. Henshaws Society for the Blind shared their expertise regarding some of the diseases and disorders that can cause sight problems and demonstrate the low vision aids that are available to help people with limited sight. A group of biomedical scientists showcased some of the cutting edge clinical research that takes place behind the scenes at the eye hospital and may impact on the future of global eye care. Fun and games were available to test your colour vision acuity and explore just how animals see.

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Some fascinating presentations were given:

  • James Sumner, a historian of science and technology gave a fascinating presentation about the incredible breakthroughs in understanding that John Dalton proposed, including the identification of colour blindness as a disorder.

  • Dr Annette Allan is a research associate and public engagement specialist who works with neurobiologist Professor Rob Lucas at The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences. Their research area, Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGCs), quite incredibly, were only discovered at the turn of this century. Some of what has been discovered about the cells has been interpreted in paint and makes up part of the Look200 exhibition at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Annette is a natural communicator who has a knack of making difficult concepts fun and accessible. She gave an enlightening presentation about the function of these fascinating cells

  • Professor Paulo Stanga, Vitreo Retinal Specialist and Director of Manchester Vision Regeneration (MVR) Lab was kind enough to come in to discuss the innovative technology and novel approaches to treatment that his lab trials and develops. Professor Stanga is one of the few surgeons in the world currently implanting and trialling the ‘bionic eye’ in patients with sight loss at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Amazing work – a truly captivating presentation of some awe-inspiring innovations in the treatment of vision disorders.

To round off the evening there was the première of ‘Oculisor’, a specially commissioned audio visual artwork created by Albino Mosquito in collaboration with musician Dan Steele. Beautiful vision themed imagery manipulated in real time in response to the music. A sublime end to an successful and satisfying evening.

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