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Creative maths from Keisha Thompson

Keisha Thompson - winner of the £15,000 DARE art prize
Keisha Thompson - winner of the £15,000 DARE art prize

A creative approach to mathematics has won Manchester-based writer-performer and maths educator Keisha Thompson the £15,000 DARE Art Prize. The commission - part of the pioneering DARE partnership between the University of Leeds and Opera North, in association with the National Science and Media Museum and The Tetley, Leeds - challenges artists and scientists to collaborate on new approaches to the creative process.

Keisha’s project DeCipher was chosen for its innovative and playful look at mathematics, which aims to place the subject at the heart of everyday life, "deciphering" what many people perceive to be a difficult topic to make it more accessible.

Keisha is looking to create an interactive performance piece that delves into the power dynamics of mathematics as content, history and culture.

Keisha said: “Mathematics has always been a creative subject for me. I was introduced to it via puzzles and games before I started school. When I got in the classroom, it was like meeting an old friend. But as I moved through the education system, I found I was in the minority in this experience. I want to create engagement that supports a new cultural appreciation for mathematics.”

This will be Keisha’s second time working with Opera North; she was previously awarded a Resonance award in 2021 to develop The Bell Curve, a new play exploring the ethics of DNA hacking technology. Since then, she has become CEO and artistic director of Contact in Manchester.

Keisha first began working on the DeCipher project last year, as an artist-researcher with Esplanade Theatre in Singapore. She also recently received a TS Eliot residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, appointed by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Wieke Eringa, Director of the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds, said: “The DARE Art Prize is a perfect example of how the university supports research collaborations that drive positive change. Keisha Thompson's DeCipher wonderfully exemplifies this collaborative approach. We look forward to supporting the next stage of the work as part of our partnership with Opera North.”

More info here


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