I really didn't know what to expect, but after a rather drawn-out arrival tea and coffee (because the judges couldn't make their minds up in the time available), the day began with short pitches from the 10 finalists who had written an article and now had presented a 'poster session' to the judges on their personal take on the theme of 'art and science.'
|RSC building to right of sculptury thing|
However, to give them their due, most of the finalists had taken a different tack and were either dealing with the impact of science on art (for example, exploring the way that van Gogh's reds have changed over time) or that science was used in the creation of art. And the results were fascinating. What's more, the articles were very readable, especially bearing in mind that most of the participants were graduate students with little or no experience of science communication.
|Who says chemists can't do style|
Probably the best bit of the day was the lunch. (That makes it sound like a jolly, but it wasn't - you have to be paid for it to be a jolly.) In part this was due to the imagination that the catering team put into the presentation of a lunch served by people in white coats, using lab utensils. The buffet was so visually striking thatfor a little while no one dared approach it.
|Nice! The syringe contains salad dressing|
So to the actual entries. I'm not going to go through all ten here (I had hoped to point you to details of them online, but I can't find them), but I will mention feeling rather sorry for two finalists who weren't there and did their pitch by video, one entirely inaudible while being represented by an incomprehensible silent video in the poster session. They really didn't stand a chance.
|Paul Brack receives his award from the RSC's president|
However, I should also say that the winner's story about the use and re-discovery of Egyptian blue, one of the first ever blue pigments, and the first synthetic pigment was fascinating, making Paul Brack a worthy winner. Especially when he said in his pitch that he groaned when he heard the topic, because he wasn't interested in art.
Overall an excellent day - I'm glad I went and I congratulate the RSC (and their sponsor Akzo Nobel) for a great event. I hope some of the participants go on to do more excellent science communication - and here's to next year's shindig!