Case Study


With a variety of volunteering and professional development opportunities available to everyone, we were thrilled that Architectural Engineer at Arup; Sophia Malik applied to be one of 20 artists in MIF19’s Creative Lab programme this summer.

Creative Lab is a space for artists to hack and play with a focus on experimentation, intervention and performativity generating a series of creative responses to MIF themes and commissions.  These responses were shared on a range of digital platforms during MIF19, including MIF’s dedicated channel on BBC Live. Creative Lab aims to foster collaboration, development and creativity with the help of established artists and companies from around the world.

During Creative Lab, Sophia collaborated with visual artist Jessica El Mal to create an installation titled Inter[nation]; a visual reputation of real UK home office data. The pair used digital design tools to create an illuminated abstract city model, using light patterns to represent the lives and stories of people seeking refuge in the UK.

“As part of the artist development programme with MIF, we created a live data sculpture taking inspiration from author Italo Calvino and the ideas represented in his book ‘Invisible Cities’. By using something as immaterial as light to carry physical data, the viewer interprets the “city” in the same way Calvino describes. The illuminations represent real numbers, free of any agenda and - over a sequence of 30 minutes - present a new way of visualising migration and cities. Sophia Malik

Sophia Malik uses her architectural background in her practice, combining her skills to be both artistically and technically creative. She has a special interest in disaster relief and international development, and has worked with NGO’s such as ‘RedR’ and ‘Shelterbox’. By approaching engineering with the same open creativity as she approaches arts, Sophia hopes to bridge the gap between engineering and architecture to become more equipped to solve the problems of tomorrow.

Through Creative Lab, Manchester International Festival is delighted to provide a platform for talented practitioners like Sophia to receive the international visibility they deserve.

Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists and has been a supporter of the Festival since 2009. We are so grateful for the firm’s longstanding commitment, generosity and engagement.