The poet, writer and visual artist Redell Olsen was announced the winner of the £15,000 DARE Art Prize 2020-21 by the University of Leeds and Opera North, in association with the National Science and Media Museum and The Tetley, Leeds.

Redell’s project included the creation of a new song cycle and film which reimagined Handel’s Acis and Galatea to present extracts of an inter-species opera in response to the current climate crisis and environmental degradation. The audio extracts were performed by members of the Chorus of Opera North and bass-baritone Matthew Stiff. Redell also produced Weather, Whether Radar: Plume of the Volants, a book which engages with the work of BioDAR researchers at the University of Leeds and scientific data measuring different species of insects in our skies, exploring alternative ways to represent climate change and the risk of species extinction.

See here for more information about Redell, this year’s Prize, and our partners.

About the DARE Art Prize

Challenging artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to creativity.

Opera North and University of Leeds in association with National Science and Media Museum and The Tetley.

The DARE Art Prize is awarded to an innovative, ambitious artist in any discipline, who is excited by the opportunity to work with leading scientific researchers at the University of Leeds, and with Opera North, one of Europe’s leading cultural organisations, as part of the DARE partnership.

“The challenges facing individuals and society in the 21st century can appear uniquely complex and chaotic. Understanding ourselves and the world we live in calls for new visions and new collaborations. The notion of creativity crosses the false barriers between science and artistic endeavour, and with the DARE Art Prize we hope to generate new work and new working methods that can bring the sectors closer together.” 

Dominic Gray, Projects Director, Opera North

The Prize comprises: –

There are no restrictions on the form of the outcome: it could be any art form or channel – a performance, a poem, an interactive website, a song cycle etc. – but the project must be achievable within twelve months. It is expected that around £5,000 of the Award will be invested in the creation of new work.

“The thinking and experiences of artists and scientists are often thought to be mutually exclusive, however the DARE prize not only shows that this is not the case, but reveals the beauty and excitement of a symbiotic creative relationship between the two fields. I am delighted by the ingenuity and imagination shown by applicants and recipients.”

John Ladbury,  Professor of Mechanistic Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds.

Application process

Individual independent artists working in any discipline are asked to apply by submitting a CV and a 500-word proposition that summarises the area of scientific interest – from astrophysics to climate change, microbiology to nutrition; an ambition to create something new and the germ of an idea of what this might be; and a genuine wish to engage with academic researchers, expertise and resources at the University of Leeds.

The process and deadline for submissions for the 2022/23 Prize are yet to be announced.

Applicants are shortlisted and interviewed by key members of the DARE team, including John Ladbury (Professor of Mechanistic Biology, University of Leeds), Dominic Gray (Projects Director, Opera North), Bryony Bond (Director, The Tetley), and Geoff Belknap (Head Curator, National Science and Media Museum).

Past Prize winners

To find out more about past DARE Art Prize recipients and the DARE partnership, see here.

“Winning the DARE Art Prize has been completely transformative to my development as an artist. It has provided the space to develop my practice in ways that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. My collaborations with researchers at the University have ignited a line of inquiry that I will be exploring over the coming months and years.” 

Anna Ridler, DARE Art Prize recipient 2019

“My collaborative research and development with staff at the University of Leeds, Opera North, and other organisations such as The Tetley in Leeds and National Science and Media Museum in Bradford was continuously rewarding and surprising. I consistently engaged in dialogues with creative researchers, artists, and engineers, and this project has proven to be incredibly fruitful in my imaginings of spaces of low-frequency sound and planetary sensuality.”  

Samuel Hertz, DARE Art Prize recipient 2017.

Our associate partners

“The DARE Prize is a truly unique project in that it sees past the view of art as a tool for communicating science and looks instead to have the two disciplinary domains develop a dialogue with one another. It is a celebration of the skills and passion needed in both areas and a much needed acknowledgement and interrogation of how the two disciplines can engage with the pressing questions of our time. Recent winners have shown insight and exceptional creativity in their tackling of contemporary issues, I can’t wait to see what our future winners will bring.

Alice Parsons, former Interpretation Manager, National Science and Media Museum.

Developing creative talent is at the heart of what The Tetley does so we are delighted to be working in partnership with the DARE Art Prize again to create opportunities for artists and scientists to work together. As a pioneering centre for contemporary art we welcome the opportunity for the winner to spend time at The Tetley developing their practice and shaping the art of the future.”

Helen Watson, former Acting Director, The Tetley.


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