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Art Changes Football Forever
Testing at The Sports Technology Institute. Photo Credit: Kathrin Böhm.

LOUGHBOROUGH.- In a unique collaboration between a group of sports mad kids and world experts in sports technology, a range of ‘second skins’ for balls is being made at Loughborough University.

Initiated by artist Kathrin Böhm, an astonishing number of new ideas were tested for fun and functionality over several months until finally one idea emerged as a clear favourite. The skins not only serve as a carry case, but actually re-invent the ball - change the skin and you change the bounce aesthetic and role of the ball.

Kathrin Böhm encouraged both technologists and teenagers alike to think beyond their usual constraints. The sports technologists are often limited by commercial considerations and the teenagers by their lack of access to expertise and resources. Both groups were free to let their imaginations run wild to come up with ideas for completely new sporting products. The results push the boundaries of both sport and art and can be viewed and used as both sports products and art objects. They are artworks you can either hang on the wall or play football with.

The sports technologists have enjoyed hearing the youngsters’ straight talking when it comes to sports products. John Edwards from the Sports Technology Institute commented that “The kids have been fantastic. It’s been a real opportunity for us to view design from a different perspective. Whether on a sports field in the village of Barrow or in the sports hall at the university, working directly with the kids and the artist in testing out a range of fantastic and fantastical ideas has been a real eye opener for us”.

Nick Slater, Director of Radar at Loughborough University, who commissioned and organised the project, says “After 7 months of soul searching, sporting experimentation and hard work 1 artist, 8 sports technologists and 15 young people from the village of Barrow upon Soar will finally launch their new sporting product on 14 June as part of Loughborough University's Centenary Day. It should be a fantastic day for all and people will have the opportunity to test out the new product in one of Loughborough's many sports pitches.”

The new sporting skins are currently in production and will be officially launched at the University and in the village on the 14th June. Kathrin Böhm’s artists group ‘public works’ will create a specially designed shop unit in which the products will be available alongside products that have been made in collaboration with other villages across Europe.

Kathrin Böhm is an artist. She holds a Masters degree in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London and a Masterstudent degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Nurenberg.

Kathrin Böhm’s work is focused upon public art and participatory methodologies. It examines the role of artists and art production as a tool for the exploration and construction of social and environmental networks and sites. Working collaboratively – Böhm’s work covers a broad terrain – addressing questions such as the relationship between art and architecture; artistic practice within rural environments; modes of interdisciplinary collaboration and the representation of engaged art practices within institutional art spaces. Her work also seeks to create public spaces or sites to foster discussion and new modes of cultural exchange and interaction amongst the public, workers within related disciplines and fellow artists.

Kathrin Böhm has exhibited both her individual and collaborative works and projects internationally. Projects include Park Products at the Serpentine Gallery, London, The Spatiality of Informal Networks – A touring exhibition and part of the Hayward Gallery's British Art Show 6 and And Millions and Millions, Sodium and Ashphalt: Contemporary British Art at Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City and Museo Marco, Monterrey, Mexico.

Kathrin Böhm has been selected for numerous Awards.

Loughborough University | Technology | Radar | Kathrin Böhm |

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