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Friday 10 June 2022

Mirror Shape Play- Meet the Artist

Throughout the summer, Mirror Shape Play will bring Orleans House Gallery to life through play. The interactive exhibition, created by Unit Lab, combines visual arts and science to create an unconventional playground where families can explore, experiment and imagine together. The exhibition will open on the 24 June until to the 11 September and is open to all families.  

We caught up with Mike and Cindy, the duo behind Unit Lab, to find out more about their creative practice. 


Hello Cindy and Mike, can you tell us a little about yourselves and how Unit Lab came to be?

Hi. I am Cindy. I am a maker and artist who loves to find creative ways of explaining scientific principles, with the help of tangible objects.  

Hi I am Mike. I am a designer and engineer who gets excited by making objects that people can interact and express themselves with.   

We both met at the Royal College of Art, where we also started to work together. Our different backgrounds really complemented each other and enabled both of us to grow our projects in new and unexpected ways. The first object we worked on together is the Gravity Ruler, a simple desktop ruler that measures both length and weight.  

Over the last 8 years we were able to work on some exciting projects which includes an interactive installation at The Edge Arts in Bath, a playground at Eleanor Palmer Primary School, and a series of table lights that are inspired by stars as a navigational point of reference. 

What and who inspires your work?

We love to work with young people and create objects and spaces for them to explore and interact with. Besides our installations we regularly run workshops at local schools. We find that art and design is a great tool for exploring and explaining scientific principles.  Through the lens of art and making, young people are able to engage with subjects from different angles, allowing individuals with many different skills to become excited and able to connect with subjects more easily. One of our biggest inspirations is Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American architect. His pieces are about open-ended play, integrating the surrounding landscape with his architecture, and combining industrial materials with organic forms. 

What do you hope visitors will experience when they visit Mirror Shape Play?

Mirror Shape Play is exploring ways of opening galleries to a wider audience and is also looking at how the visitor can become part of the artistic creation. We want to encourage visitors to observe and play in the gallery but also take ownership by creating new configurations with the pieces. We will document the everchanging gallery throughout the period of the exhibition by taking one photo every day after gallery hours. 

Why do you think that play is important?

Play is vital for children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. For us play represents a joyful way of experiencing our surroundings, testing our boundaries and understanding things physically.

Mirror Shape Play is designed for 3-8 year olds, though younger and older children are welcome. Click here to find out more about the exhibition: The Exhibition.