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Roberto Trotta The Planck Collaboration

Picturing the Invisible

How can we articulate the invisible, that which is not known, or that which is not provable? A research network and collaboration between University of the Arts London (UAL) and University College London (UCL), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

This project brings together leading academics from a wide range of disciplines including Art and Design, Architecture, Curatorial Practice, Literature, Forensic Science, Fashion, Medical Science, Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy, Philosophy and Astrophysics with a shared interest in exploring how, in each discipline, we strive to find expression for the invisible or unknown.

As our understanding of the complexity of the world grows incrementally, so our realisation that issues and problems can rarely be resolved within neat demarcations. Therefore, the importance of finding means of communicating across disciplines and fields becomes a priority.

Whilst acknowledging the essential importance of the specialist academic, the capacity to understand other disciplines, their priorities, methodologies and even the language used, can become crucial in being an effective instrument for change.

Key objectives

  • To explore how concepts about the invisible or unknown are expressed within different disciplines, and identify similarities and divergence.
  • To examine the use of language within disciplines and provide a testing ground for cross-disciplinary dialogue.
  • To explore common themes, common approaches and what can be learned from a diverse range of disciplines, experiences, and perspectives in order to address complex challenges and facilitate problem-solving.
  • To explore future research themes for larger projects, identify opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations, and encourage risk-taking and blue sky thinking.

What's on


Paul Coldwell: Picturing the Invisible Exhibition

17 July - 15 September 2019

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Learn more


Picturing the Invisible Conference

7-8 November 2019

Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts


Picturing the Invisible: Book Launch

6-8pm, 12 March 2020

Red Room, Chelsea College of Arts

The project team

The network is led by Prof. Paul Coldwell, Professor in Fine Art at University of the Arts London (UAL). Coldwell is both an artist and academic with a practice that includes working with museums and collections. The co-investigator is Prof. Ruth Morgan, Professor of Crime and Forensic Science at University College London (UCL) Department of Security and Crime Science, and the Director of the UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences.

Paul Coldwell

Professor Paul Coldwell

Professor Ruth Morgan

Professor Ruth Morgan

Gabriele Grigorjeva


Get in touch

University of the Arts London

Chelsea College of Arts

16 John Islip Street

London, SW1P 4JU

Follow us on Twitter: @PicturingThe_

Network members

Stephen Doering

Mark Emberton

Adam Gibson

Paul Goodwin

Owen Hopkins

Roger Kneebone

Tanja Staehler

Susan Tallman

Irene Tracey

Roberto Trotta

Featured Stories

cover of invisible man book by h g wells

Welcome to Picturing the Invisible

By Paul Coldwell
29 March 2019

A journey begins

By Ruth Morgan
27 April 2019
sculpture called ghosts arch by Paul Coldwell

Emerging Themes

By Paul Coldwell and Ruth Morgan
13 May 2019


Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer.

Special issue of Art in Print

By Susan Tallman
27 March 2019
Roberto Trotta The Planck Collaboration
Roberto Trotta - The Planck Collaboration

Reflections on the invisible

By Roberto Trotta
2 April 2019
diagram on the super ego

What is true?

By Stephan Doering
14 April 2019
installation shot of camille henrot's sculpture piece augmented objects featuring a  number of objects in black

Giacometti and Henrot

By Paul Coldwell
15 May 2019

John Cage: Lecture on Nothing

By Paul Coldwell

16 June 2019

I came across John Cage’s 'Lecture on Nothing' and was struck by its relevance to our project. Written in 1949 three years years before the performance of his seminal piece 4’33’’, in which the audience were invited to listen to  silence for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, the lecture explores ideas of language and structure. I particularly like the notion of

Structure without life is dead. But life without structure is un-seen.

Roberto Trotta The Planck Collaboration
Roberto Trotta - The Planck Collaboration

The Dictionary of Invisible Meanings

By Roberto Trotta

17 June 2019

 paul coldwell sculpture of four columns, with title four orders - essentials

Picturing the Invisible: The house seen from below - Exhibition

Artist Paul Coldwell exhibits a new body of work exploring the notion of absence in Sir John Soane’s Museum, derived from over a year’s research.

figure wearing a piece of adrienne bennie's design, behind them the fence features hand-written words: 'i need more money'
Adrienne Bennie, I need more money

Picturing the Invisible as a Spatial Designer

Adrienne Bennie reflects on the Picturing the Invisible student-led seminar.

31 August 2019

textures of snow in black and white
The Quiet of Snow 2016 digital, etching, chine-collé 41 x 90cms

Tracy Templeton - The Quiet of Snow

Paul Coldwell discusses the work of artist Tracy Templeton.

10 September 2019

Paul Coldwell opening Picturing the Invisible Conference
Paul Coldwell opening Picturing the Invisible Conference, 7-8 November 2019, Chelsea College of Arts. Photo: Andrea Capello

Looking back at the Picturing the Invisible Conference

Illustrated overview of papers and themes discussed at the conference between 7-8 November.

View of the Picturing the Invisible exhibition at Triangle Space.
Elin Karlsson, Portico. Part of the Picturing the Invisible Pop-up Exhibition, Triangle Space. Photo: Andrea Capello.

Pop-up exhibition of student works

Curated by Abbi Fletcher and featuring works by students from across Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon colleges.


Find out how to get involved in our project

Call closed

Picturing the Invisible Seminar

8 July 2019

Chelsea College of Arts

A platform for an exchange of ideas concerning how we picture the invisible or the unknown within our respective disciplines.

Selected Participants

Read the abstracts of selected participants to the seminar, comprising of postgraduate students from UCL's Centre Forensic Science and UAL.

Call closed

Call for Curators!

Triangle Space

7-9 November 2019

Opportunity to curate a pop-up exhibition to coincide with the Picturing the Invisible conference and the AHRC-funded research network.

How to apply

Send a 250-word proposal, timeline, budget and CV to

Deadline: Monday 23 September 2019.

Call details


Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more.

This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

Sir John Soane's Museum

The Soane Museum is the extraordinary house of Sir John Soane, one of the greatest English architects, who built and lived in it more than a century and a half ago.

The Museum has been kept as it was at the time of his death nearly 180 years ago. It displays his collection of antiquities, furniture, sculptures, architectural models, paintings – including work by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto  – and over 30,000 architectural drawings. It’s a vast, extraordinary collection, full of curiosities and surprises.

University College London

University College London (UCL) is a multi-faculty college of the University of London with a population of over 36,000 students, from more than 150 different countries. Degree programmes are provided in Arts and Humanities, Social and Historical Sciences, Architecture, Building, Environmental Design and Planning, Laws, Life Sciences and Clinical Sciences (including Medicine), Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Engineering Sciences. UCL has been ranked in the top 10 of the QS World University Rankings for the last seven years.

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