PEALS has used a range of techniques to allow people to exchange perspectives about recent and potential future developments in science, particularly biology and related areas. This project is often called 'sci-art' as it uses art, such as creative writing, drama, cartoons and video, to explore issues that have a scientific dimension. This may be with the intention of creating original art or as a way of opening up a dialogue on important issues with a wider audience than has taken part so far - often both.
The project, funded by the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI), was led by local writer Lisa Matthews, whose previous work at the interface of scientific and artistic imagination includes the How Gay Are Your Genes? project. Stemistry uses this sci-art approach, in combination with co-inquiry, to improve the quality of dialogue between stem cell researchers and people from a variety of backgrounds. The project is a key example of how we are engaging with scientists in the region to work across the disciplinary boundaries of science, social science and the arts and humanities.
Lisa identified two community groups: one pre-existing group of young Asian women and girls that meet regularly at The Angelou Centre in the West End of Newcastle and a newly formed group of writers from across the northeast region. A series of workshops was held with these two groups and the resulting work can be explored on the stemistry website. This web site has a multiplicity of uses and we hope it will act as a resource for writers and other artists, while also providing a platform for the expression of informed opinions from many people in the north east region, where much cutting edge stem cell research is currently taking place.