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Superposition 006: Comics, Play and Material Culture


Packhorse Event No 006: Comics, Play and Material Culture

Wednesday 2nd April 6.00 -8.00 @ THE PACKHORSE, woodhouse lane

Breaking from our usual model, this month we will be exploring how different forms of outreach /engagements inform thinking about how science and technology has effected society in the past and will influence the future.

Dr. Claire Jones, Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine will discuss the value and strategy of using historical objects at outreach events and workshops in order to make history tangible. The Museum of HSTM works to uncover and represent the scientific past of the University of Leeds and the surrounding area, and to contribute more generally to work in the history and material culture of science.

The Museum has collections of over 250,000 objects include a broad array of physics and mathematics apparatus, medical instruments and biological specimens, as well as chemical and geological samples, the majority of which date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many objects are historically significant and rare, such as a Laennec stethoscope from 1822, the 1930s Astbury camera used to take the first photograph of DNA, and the 1949 Mark I MONIAC (Monetary National Income Automatic Computer) used to model the economy.

We also welcome representatives from Eureka. Eureka! is a unique place for families and groups to visit, where children aged 0 to 11 are inspired to learn all about themselves and the world around them by playing, imagining, experimenting and – above all – having fun, with the caring grown-ups in their lives.’ They will be asking the question ‘What would be the key facts you would want to convey to children in a new playful gallery about the saving the environment?’

James McKay will be discussing his recent projects. McKay is an illustrator and comics artist who frequently collaborates with scientists on subjects as diverse as palaeontology, engineering and chemistry. Mckay’s most recent work includes the 2000AD comics series ‘Flesh’ written by Pat Mills, a textbook ‘Dinosaurs of the British Isles’ written by scientist Dean Lomax, and the graphic novel ‘Dreams of a Low Carbon Future’. The latter project is a science outreach initiative funded (£25k) by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It aims to raise awareness about energy issues, climate change and sustainability. Mckay directed 25 artists, writers and designers, and around 370 children, to visualise various scenarios for the future through comics, illustration, stories, maps and diagrams. 5,000 copies were printed and distributed to schools, museums, galleries and through Thought Bubble Comics Festival in November 2013.


Wednesday 3rd April 2014 – 6-8 PM

Additional Information

The Superposition is a collaborative community of artists, scientists and makers, based in Leeds. We meet to discuss the overlap of our three disciplines and to be inspired to create artistic work which can be considered ‘science’, ‘art’ and ‘making’, simultaneously.

These evening events are not about arguing the merits of whose understanding or application of an idea is right; they’re about identifying the essence of what makes a specific idea beautiful and inspirational through the notions of play/ a playful interaction. The aim is simply to create and nurture conversations that may lead to new collaborations, which in turn result in the making of exciting new work.


Claire Jones’ research centres on the cultural, economic and social history of medicine and health in modern Britain, with particular emphases on the relationship between medicine and commerce, and ways in which this relationship affects professional social structures, ethics, and technologies. Her first monograph on the development of medical industry in Britain titled The Medical Trade Catalogue in Britain, 1870-1914 has just been published.

Claire completed her PhD in the School and in collaboration with the Thackray Museum in 2010, before returning in 2012 to become the new Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Leeds. More about the Museum can be found here. Previously she was learning and access officer on a HLF project at the University of Worcester and was research fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.

The Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Leeds was established in 2007 by a team of staff and students from the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. Working with collections housed across campus, we aim to uncover, preserve and promote the use of artefacts from the University’s scientific past. To find out more please visit


Eureka! Is the UK’s National children’s Museum. Children’s museums are spaces designed to give children the opportunity to learn through play or ‘informal learning‘. They are different from traditional museums, where visitors aren’t usually allowed to touch or interact with exhibits – children’s museum exhibits are usually hands-on, encouraging children to learn by testing, experimenting, exploring their natural curiosity and using their senses and imagination. To find out more about the museum and its other activities visit


James McKay,, has been working in comics and illustration for the best part of ten years, and has worked for many different companies including 2000AD and Com.X in the UK, and Mosquito Editions in France.  James was the concept designer for the BBCTV series Fightbox, an interactive series in which viewers made their own fighting machines out of parts James had designed.

His comics work includes numerous short stories for UK indie publishers, including the 16-page fantasy Marraquai, written by Benjamin Dickson and published by Scar Comics.  In 2007 he published the first volume of the lavish fantasy series City of Secrets ( La Cité des Secrets) with Mosquito Editions, to instant acclaim.

In 2009 James was one of 4 finalists nominated for the prestigious 2010 Arts Fellowship Award, the first year comics have been recognised by the body.  The award was not open to application – all entrants had to be nominated by recognised experts in their field.  The award was judged by Pat Mills, Posy Simmonds and Paul Gravett.

Information about Dreams of a low carbon future can be found at and


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