Workshop: The Physarum Experiments

Join us for this unique short workshop with Heather Barnett, visual artist and educator. This workshop is not included in the 3-day, 1-day or half-day Festival passes. To attend, please register here.

Workshop outline

 “[In] trying to understand systems that use relatively simple components to build higher-level intelligence, the slime mould may someday be seen as the equivalent of the finches and tortoises that Darwin observed on the GaIápagos Islands.”

(Steven Johnson, Emergence, 2001)

Physarum polycephalum is a tiny yellow microorganism that displays primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and memory. This slime mould is used as a model organism in many areas of research including city planning, adaptation and robotics. It also makes for a great creative collaborator: kept dark and damp, and fed on a diet of porridge oats, it will grow in beautiful patterns whilst foraging for food.

Join artist Heather Barnett to discover the fascinating role this single celled organism has to play in the culture of both science and art, and participate in a practical experiment to create the ideal creative environment for it to grow. Each participant will take home their own pet slime mould at the end of the session, and will be invited to share the results of their experiments on The Slime Mould Collective @

Organism, equipment and consumables provided.



Heather Barnett


Heather Barnett is a visual artist, researcher and educator working with biological systems and scientific processes. With interests ranging across medicine, psychology, perception and visualisation, projects have included microbial portraiture, cellular wallpapers, performing cuttlefish and self-organising installations. She is a Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Photographic Arts at the University of Westminster, UK, and runs an independent arts practice working on art/science research collaborations and public art commissions.