NESTA supports me in four strands of development:
1) part time salary,
2) equipment and materials support,
3) cover costs of attending various types of teachings (for example lateral thinking as well as meditation techniques)
4) support for travel costs and accommodation.
This has enabled me to: prototype a range of ideas and inventions that I had not yet been able to pursue; to attend a unique and historic meeting in France; to find time to research and sketch out 'artistic' ideas, as well as develop skills in new technology (both computing, software and hardware). All of which is expanding both my ability and opportunity to be creative and keep alive the spirit of mental adventure and play that is so precious, but so easy to lose, with limited time, work pressures and assessments etc.
Top: the Fullerene mathematics demonstration. Below : the laptop audio-visual monitor (see text).
Prototypes and inventions
I have used the Fellowship to prototype a range of ideas that I had been 'dreaming about' but had not had the time, equipment or mental space to develop properly. These ideas were alive in spirit in the pages of my notebooks but needed to be brought alive physically. These have included building demonstration models and prototyping new workshops for the Creative Science Centre as well as for my own interests. An example of this includes the building of a novel video/audio book that is much more flexible than a standard monitor. I have also used my time to research and make drawings for paintings. I have been involved in the Campaign For Drawing which is trying to draw together art-science and technology with education. This (for want of a better word) 'artistic' side of me desperately needs an outlet and it has been a constant frustration to me that work 'takes over' and tends to push aside these sort of mentally healthy outlets.
Some of the sketches from The Path to Enlightenment, Sept. 2000, Montpellier, France
NESTA enabled me to attend The Path to Enlightenment in Sept 2000, a five day teaching by H. H. Dalai Lama near Montpellier in France. This unique occasion - teachings on meditation and the meaning of human life - was a Buddhist event from a basic human perspective providing a unique set of 'teachings' of advice and personal observations by the Dalai Lama. A number of sketches were made at the event (Cameras weren't allowed!) and I am currently using these for develop paintings.
The NESTA fellowship has enabled me to purchase some fundamental equipment and materials for prototyping ideas, for developing IT skills and for developing software and hardware design, that I have planned for future NESTA work. This equipment support is an especially important part of the fellowship as a little money to try things out really frees up the creative spirit.
The Big Draw held in the subway under Exhibition Road (Campaign for Drawing)
Travel and making links with others
The fellowship made it possible to go to France for the meditation teachings in Sept. and I envisage that this part of the fellowship will quite literally 'take me to new places' and enable me to explore creative ideas and meet new people. For example I was asked in September to join the Big Draw, the first activity of the Campaign for Drawing initiative. This has the wonderful aim of stimulating more people to appreciate the educational and communicative power of drawing - a view I hold very dear, as I 'think' much more clearly in pictures than in the written word.
What next for the NESTA work?
Nesta has given me the opportunity to maintain a thread of exploration and inquisitiveness that most of the adult population simply don't have time for. This 'play' often leads to spontaneous creativity because it is without the burden of production or the need for a 'right' result. Nesta's contribution to my creativity is direct and positive. Future aims and aspirations are to continue to develop, design and create more prototypes and to develop sketching and paintings ideas. I also want to use the NESTA time to enable me to explore areas I wouldn't have done otherwise and I have already started research on a book of experiments for children and parents. I also plan to use the fellowship to explore new technologies such as microcontroller integrated circuits, computer i/p and o/p ports and devices as well as get to grips with new computer technology and software.
Prototypes designed and built
* an unusual sea water battery, Rough Science demonstrations, a simple LED Flasher and also a telephone Workshop have all been prototyped that will form the basis of interesting and creative CSC workshops and talks.
* a AA alkaline battery re-activator was prototyped for rejuvenating 'throw away' batteries. This is a really environmentally sound scheme and I intend to set up a small-scale 'drop in' community facility at the CSC.
* various scale models of geodesic domes have been prototyped. This work has led directly, and I think rather wonderfully, to the community as it will form the basis of a prestigious Sussex / Royal Institution SmithKline Beacham Master Class (an event next year staged at Sussex for 60 bright school kids).
* a Fullerene Demo has been created which is an interactive demonstration that teaches the mathematics of C60 and the other fascinating molecular structures.
* a Video/sound monitor 'booklet' - a tiny video screen and amplifier that allows me to watch teaching videos or any other video material as simply and conveniently as reading a book'.
Equipment purchased: Camera, laptop (+cover), components and parts etc.
PIC chips, programmer & compilers, software, paints, brushes etc.
Travel - NESTA covered the costs of air travel to Montpellier France, Hotel accommodation,
travel to site and costs of teachings etc.
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