The best of the Secret Garden Party
July 4, 2017 by Marissa
The Secret Garden Party announced that 2017 would be the last ever Garden Party. Guerilla Science was born at this festival, so we want to share our favourite moments from 8 years at the Garden. Every year, we’ve produced an array of surprising talks, extraordinary workshops, and unexpected experiments that have uncovered how facts are always stranger than fiction – here are our favourites.
2008 Pick: Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air
Back in 2008, a motley crew of event producers commandeered an old army tent at the Garden and took science to the masses – marking the first time that British music festival goers were challenged and amazed by science. Our pick of the year was a discussion hosted by physicist and later chief energy officer for the UK government, David Mackay. He dispelled the hot air on climate change by dissecting sustainable energy and calculating whether the country could rely on renewable sources.
2009 Pick: Messing with Matter
In 2009, we returned to the Garden with a raucous gang of scientists in tow. The best event of the year was an afternoon session of metal smelting, melting and casting, created in collaboration with the Materials Library. We constructed a makeshift laboratory and invited festival goers to unearth the science behind metals, as they crafted their very own metal trinkets to take away.
2010 Pick: Flavour Feast
The highlight of our 2010 programme was the Flavour Feast, developed in collaboration with food scientist Becki Clarke, now renowned flavour expert Rachel Edwards-Stuart, and diet researcher Tony Goldstone. Punters were wowed with a smorgasbord of surprising taste sensations and edible demos that tricked all the senses, and discovered that there’s more than meets the tongue when it comes to our sense of flavour.
2011 Pick: Dirty Life Drawing
In 2011, we produced a day of dirt as part of the weekend programme – a celebration of all things filthy, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. We took this to a new level with a Dirty Life Drawing class featuring models with their insides scrawled on their outsides by expert body painting artists. Students learned about the structure and function of organs from doctor Jack Milln and neuroscientist Zarinah Agnew, and were led through the techniques of illustrating the human body by artists Evy Jokhova and Kat Davis.
2012 Pick: Particle Zoo Safari
Our favourite event in 2012 was a flash performance created in collaboration with designer Patrick Stevenson-Keating and particle physicist James Monk. Complete with dubstep, a group of Guerilla Scientists donned costumes and demystified particle physics in a staged safari featuring polyamorous colourful cuddly quarks, speedy golden electrons and a grumpy obese Higgs boson. The characters embraced each other and danced together, forming the fundamental particles of the universe.
2013 Pick: Sensory Speed Dating
Our 2013 programme embraced three fabulous festival themes: sex, drugs, and music. We turned matchmaker with the first ever Sensory Speed Dating. Armed with a plethora of knowledge – thanks to outstanding evolutionary psychologist Rob Burriss – Guerilla Science explored how we use our senses in the strange science of attraction. During six rounds of sensory challenges, blindfolded festival goers uncovered what the smell of sweat tells us about a prospective partner, how eating raw vegetables makes you attractive, and why long vocal chords are sexy.
2014 Pick: Designer Drugs
In 2014 we returned to our spiritual home to once again to explore the ever appealing themes of sex, drugs, and music. Drug scientists Will Lawn and Ravi Das joined us to host a festival-wide drug poll, and helped punters to build new model drugs, understand legal highs, and discover what people might be taking in years to come.
2015 Pick: Fire Organ Tour
2015 saw three days of events themed around rest, noise, and play, inspired by our participation in the first ever multidisciplinary residency in the Wellcome Collection Hub. Over the year we worked tirelessly with a team of engineers from Buro Happold to build the Fire Organ – the mutant offspring of a Rubens’ tube and a traditional pipe organ. With the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering, this flaming beast toured several British music festivals, visualising sounds in fire and capturing the minds of hundreds of festival goers.
2016 Pick: Space Yoga
Last year, we landed our mothership and installed ourselves once again as the Gardeners’ favourite renegade guides to the galaxy. We held an extended programme inspired by the galactic theme, and even teleported our Intergalactic Travel Bureau into a second tent. We loved seeing punters in the morning stretching like astronauts, discovering what it’s like to travel to space, and exploring the benefits of yoga training with Andrew Kuh, the UK Space Agency’s Microgravity Manager, and our resident yoga instructor.
2017 Pick: Join us and find out!