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Carnevale at The Roslin Institute

The exhibit "CARNEVALE" by artist Andrea Roe, which explores pigs' enthusiasm for investigative play, is now at The Roslin Institute.

Two people watching the "Carnevale" video on a TV.

Andrea Roe is a Lecturer in Sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art. In 2016 she was a Leverhulme Trust artist in residence working with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) on the Easter Bush Campus, home for The Roslin Institute.

In April last year, Andrea came back to the Campus to revisit one workshop idea to explore animal welfare questions. Together with artist Cath Keay, who is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Design at Edinburgh College of Art, they designed and produced eight sculptural objects that would appeal to both humans and pigs, so that the experience would be a shared one and mutually enriching. Brian Mather, Senior e-Learning Developer at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies filmed the pigs' reaction.

They chose materials that would invite the pigs to play: the pigs could smell, tear apart and eat the objects, and they were designed as if for a carnival or fun fair, called Pig KerPlunk, Popcorn Piñata, Fruit Machine and Sweep Sensation.

Andrea's work was connected to the work of Professor Alistair Lawrence - Chair of Animal Behaviour & Welfare at The Roslin Institute and SRUC. Alistair's group is interested in the causes and consequences of positive behaviour, such as play in farm animals, as well as how to enrich the environment for animals. Video is a good way to quantify and record play behaviour.

It seems to make common sense to keep animals in conditions where they can behave naturally but it may be that to facilitate this happening on a large scale we need to first demonstrate the benefits to humans.

Professor Alistair LawrenceChair of Animal Behaviour & Welfare, University of Edinburgh and SRUC

After the workshop, Andrea compiled a newspaper publication called "CARNEVALE", with contributions from Alistair Lawrence, SRUC scientist Professor Françoise Wemelsfelder and creative writer Tessa Berring, as well as a video featuring the pigs with play objects. In the newspaper and video, we can see the pigs' keen curiosity for novel objects and enthusiasm for investigative play.

Throughout the process of designing and making the objects we thought about what matters to pigs and carefully crafted objects that they could interact with and which would fit their body proportions.

Andrea RoeLecturer, Edinburgh College of Art

The exhibit will be in the Institute until the end of June.

Related links

The animal feelgood factor

Animal welfare on the Easter Bush Campus

Prestigious award for Professor in animal behaviour and welfare