Long Boiology: Art Trail celebrates 60 years of biosciences at York


Shannon Reed spoke to the creator of the Long Boi trail

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Image by Image via Abbie Lenton

By Shannon Reed

Following the official opening of the Biology Art Trail  this week, Nouse spoke to the trail’s creator, Professor Pen Holland, to discuss York’s latest art collaboration.

The concept of the Long Boi art trail, Pen told us, “was inspired by the painted sculpture trails we see in other cities”. It is much like giving the Gromit Unleashed  exhibition in Bristol as one example but “combined with a love of Long Boi in the Department of Biology, and our beautiful campus at York.” Painted sculpture trails are popping up all over the country and; they are highly attractive to tourists and families alike. Pen explained that “the idea hatched before Long Boi’s reported demise” but with this year marking the 60th anniversary of the University, “it seemed like a good time to share what we’re doing in the department with campus visitors” and to “pay tribute to him… in a duck-shaped format!”

The Long Boiology Art Trail is a collaboration between the Department of Biology and the Biology Research Workshops, with thanks to the University Estates Team. Speaking to Pen about her collaboration with artists in the department, she explains “we put out a call for artists among the department community and were really pleased to be able to offer ducks to students from the undergraduate and postgraduate groups, as well as researchers, academics and professional support staff.” The creation of the art trail appears to have been a highly collective process. Mark Bentley, who runs the Biology Research Workshops, produced “a solid model [duck silhouette] with bespoke mounting plates” just a few weeks after Pen first approached him about the design. Another pivotal figure to the trail’s success was Helena Cox, the University’s Art Curator, who ensured the trail was “embedded firmly into the ‘Art on Campus’ section of the University website, and made links between other art trails on campus as well.”

The opening ceremony on Monday saw students and staff enjoy Long Boi biscuits made using a bespoke Long Boi cookie cutter. They were highly praised by Head of Department Professor James Moir and the Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffrey, who officially opened the trail. The art trail consists of twelve life-sized wooden Long Boi silhouettes, with each duck design inspired by research taking place in the Biology Department. A map of the art trail and more information about the artists’ designs and processes can be found on the Long Boiology website.