Climbing the Double Helix

  • Date:
    17 September–29 October 2016

Louise Clarke
Liz Collini
Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Opening night: Friday 16 September 2016, 6–8pm

To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Northampton-born Francis Crick, NN Contemporary Art presents Climbing the Double Helix, an exhibition of commissions from artists Louise Clarke and Liz Collini and existing work by Heather Dewey-Hagborg.

Francis Crick discovered the DNA molecule with James Watson and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Deoxyribonucleic acid, known as DNA, is the genetic blueprint for making all living things. Shaped like a double helix, a twisting ladder-like structure, DNA is contained in almost every cell in the human body.

DNA holds the instructions that determine every physical trait; eye colour, which hand you write with, your propensity for certain conditions and more. Since its discovery, applications have led to major innovation in many fields such as healthcare, genealogy and forensic science. With these developments, however, come ethical questions and nefarious opportunities.

This exhibition brings together three artists working across media including installation, drawing, film and publishing. Liz Collini has been commissioned to create a new text-based wall work for the exhibition based on her research into the topic. Liz’s method for drawing texts reveal the geometry of each letter and serif; her words emanate from their exposed building blocks. Her work entitled Most of the time (2016) uses coloured pencil and gel pen upon a blue background.

Louise Clarke’s new site-specific commission Ponytails (2016) comes from a drawing-based practice and uses hair, light and fibre optics to create an immersive experience drawing through the space.  Hair carries DNA and historically and culturally in the UK we have carried hair as keepsakes, such as in a locket. This leads to the second part of Louise’s work, Lockets (2016) an interactive piece visible 24 hours a day from Guildhall Road. The oval of a locket provides the shape for a series of backdrops Louise is creating in the windows of NN. Along Guildhall Road, individuals, groups, anyone and everyone passing by are invited to use the backdrops to take photos and selfies, using the hashtag #NorthamptonDNA to create a cumulative portrait of Northampton.

Climbing the Double Helix also features video work and documentation from Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s various projects both using and questioning the use of technology and DNA. Stranger Visions (2012–14) saw Heather recovering DNA from the every day environment such as discarded chewing gum and cigarette butts. After sequencing the DNA at the Brooklyn open biotechnology laboratory ‘Genspace’, Heather 3D printed portraits of the people based on the extracted genetic information. DNA Spoofing (2013), made with collaborators Allison Burtch, Aurelia Moser and Adam Harvey, is a playful look at DIY ways in which anonymity can be enabled in the age of genetic surveillance. As well as the videos, the exhibition features The Official Biononymous Guidebook (2015) by Heather, completed with Jared Solomon. These booklets are a DIY guide to erase and replace your DNA and the video of the project Invisible (2014) considers the future of genetic privacy.

About the Artists

Louise Clarke

Currently based in Northampton, artist/curator Louise Clarke graduated from Central St Martins in 1997 and gained her MA from the Royal College Of Art in 1999. Assistant to the late Helen Chadwick and a fellow of the RCA, Louise’s own art practice developed broadly, embracing a range of media (print, photography, drawing, recycled and scavenged materials) to produce a variety of installation based outcomes (2D and 3D, multiples, architectural scale interventions, etc). Louise’s recently curated projects include :Xenotopia (2016) and recent conferences Utopia 500, Lisbon. She writes a regular column in the quarterly Saatchi: Art & Music Magazine and maintains an international profile with projects in Slovakia, Russia, Ecuador and Libya.

Liz Collini

Based in London, Liz Collini has her studio at EuroArt in Tottenham and is a member of East London Printmakers, an artists’ collective based in Hackney. Liz gained BA (hons) Fine Art from Middlesex University in 2005 and graduated from the Royal College of Art with MA Fine Art Printmaking in 2007. Liz’s text and language drawings, prints and installations have been  exhibited widely in the UK and abroad and include  site specific commissions such as the V&A Prints & Drawings Archive Room and the Bury Text Festivals.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a Chicago-based transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice. She has shown work internationally at events and venues including the World Economic Forum, Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Bienniale, the New Museum, and PS1 MOMA. Her work has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to TED and Wired. She is an Assistant Professor of Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a 2016 Creative Capital award grantee in the area of Emerging Fields.


Open Forum – Artists, One-to-One feedback Day
Saturday 17 September 2016, Appointments between 11am–6pm

Open Forum 2016 is a series of FREE events for practicing visual artists offering advice and support.

On Saturday 17 September 2016 artists will be given the option to discuss their work with either Domo Baal, Director of Domo Baal gallery or Matt Roberts from Matt Roberts Arts, a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2006 to create opportunities for artists in new locations and contexts.

The one to one’s will focus on commercial practice and funding.

Developing a Commercial Practice with Domo Baal (Domo Baal gallery)
Public Funding Options with Matt Roberts (Matt Roberts Arts)

Each session is 45 minutes and can also include advice on your practice or other professional ambitions. Spaces are limited and on a first come first served basis. To book a one-to- session please email [email protected] stating who you would like to talk to.

Open Forum is supported by Matt Roberts Arts, NN Contemporary Art, and Arts Council England: through Grants for the Arts.

Bumps and Babes
Thursday 29 September 2016, 2–3pm
Thursday 27 October 2016, 2–3pm

If you are pregnant or have a baby or pre-schooler, come to NN to see the exhibition with your bump or babe and meet others for coffee and finger painting. Wear clothes to get messy in!
Book your place…

Lunch Time Tour with Louise Clarke
Friday 30 September 2016, 1–2pm

Join Louise Clarke, one of the artists from the current exhibition Climbing the Double Helix for a walk and talk through the show. You will be able to ask Louise questions about her practice and her new work at NN.
Book your place…

Crit Group
Saturday 1 October 2016, 2–4pm

NN hosts the Crit Group for artists at all stages of their career to come together to discuss their work in progress by artists for artists. This Crit Group will begin with Featured Artists who will present short introductions to their practice followed by Q&A. Crit Group is led by artist Sayed Sattar Hasan.
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Fun Palaces
Saturday 1 October 2016, 2–4pm

Join us here at NN Contemporary Art and Royal & Derngate for arts and crafts activities, performances by local theatre company Querencia Theatre, the chance to try your hand at mini challenges. There will also be a singing workshop with Izy Sommerfield, digital workshops by The University of Northampton and Northamptonshire Music And Performing Arts Trust, puppetry workshops with Lisa Shepherd and storytelling activities with Feast Of Fools.
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From Art to Commerce
Wednesday 5 October 2016, 7–9pm
Wednesday 2 November 2016, 7–9pm
Wednesday 7 December 2016, 7–9pm

Whether you are starting, sustaining or growing your creative business, these sessions will cover different aspects of your business from planning to marketing, cash flow to prioritising and a chance to share your experiences with others. From Art to Commerce monthly workshops are led by Tracey Clarke.
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Lunch time Write Club
Thursday 20 October 2016, 1–2pm

Write Club is for anyone wanting to brush up on their art writing from artist statements to critical texts, get together for peer critique over a coffee in the Café. This session will look at artist statement writing. For further information contact Catherine Hemelryk, [email protected].
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Swarm Sculptures
Saturday 22 October 2016, 12–6pm

Swarm Sculptures is a new durational movement installation created by dance artist Lucy Suggate.

Influenced by swarm intelligence as a choreographic process and the body as sculpture, the work will be sited in galleries and other public spaces in Nottingham and Northampton during Autumn 2016.

Based in Yorkshire, Lucy’s practice encompasses an expanded approach to making dance and choreography. Her work is centred on integrating conceptual thinking with a movement practice to produce engaging and articulate work.

Produced by Dance4. Commissioned by Dance4, Yorkshire Dance and NN Contemporary Art, Northampton.
Supported by Nottingham Contemporary, Dance Base and Dancing Museums. Using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Creative family workshop: Building the Megaspiral with Tamsyn Payne
22 October 2016, 2–4pm

Join Tamsyn to create a giant double helix using a variety of junk materials!  Learn about the structure of DNA as we think BIG about very small things… And take home your own macrame DNA spiral as a souvenir.
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Talk: AncestryDNA – Find out where you really come from
Saturday 29 October 2016, 11am

Brad Argent from Ancestry will be at NN on the final day of the exhibition. He will talk about the AncestryDNA kit, and the surprises it can reveal about who you are and where you come from. Find out how, with one simple test, you can uncover the different places from your past, discover unknown relatives and find new details about your unique story.
Book your place…

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