Press release

‘Memory Trace’ at the Wellcome Trust

London landmarks take a cerebral twist in Gayle Chong Kwan’s ‘Memory Trace’, a newly commissioned photographic work displayed in the windows of the Wellcome Trust headquarters.

Delicately sculpted from historical illustrations of the brain found in the collections of the Wellcome Library, Chong Kwan's landscape presents a sinuously beautiful account of the city. By featuring landmarks used by taxi drivers as navigational points, the artist links the capital's urban topography with connections generated by memory.

'Memory Trace' is inspired by the research of Professor Eleanor Maguire of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, which shows that the process of acquiring 'the Knowledge' - the complex layout of central London's 25 000 streets - causes structural changes in the brains of taxi drivers.

During the day, Chong Kwan's panorama presents the familiar skyline of the buildings and attractions that make up the city, but a closer inspection reveals an intricate collage of historical drawings and paintings: attempts to record and visualise the workings of the brain.

At night, LEDs map out the journeys frequently taken by taxis and reflect the creation of new neural pathways. The landscape, photographed from models put together by the artist, carries the life of the city and the physical matter of our apprehension.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, said: "Gayle Chong Kwan's 'Memory Trace' is a map of both the city and the mind, an exploration of the way in which we experience and navigate landscapes and a beautiful panorama of London. The unlikely combination of illustrations of brains from the Wellcome Library and familiar tourist landmarks will allow passers-by on Euston Road to see their city afresh."

The London landmarks in 'Memory Trace' include Buckingham Palace, Battersea Power Station, the Houses of Parliament and Canary Wharf.

'Memory Trace' runs until June 2013 at the Wellcome Trust, 215 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.