The Science Gallery’s latest venture sees Failure being paid due homage for its role in the scientific, entrepreneurial and creative process.

The Fail Better exhibition now showing at Trinity College’s Science Gallery features representations of failure, but not pointless pursuits, from several noteworthy contributors, including designer/inventor, James Dyson; Olympic runner Sonia O’Sullivan; scientist, Jocelyn Burnell; explorer, Ranulph Fiennes; writer Anne Enright; and creativity consultant Ken Robinson.

The exhibition was co-curated by Michael John Gorman, Director of the Science Gallery and Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh inventor of Sugru, self setting rubber – an accidental discovery, a fortunate fail.

The title of the exhibition comes from the Samuel Beckett quote (see lead image) from the novella Worstward Ho: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” The exhibition features the Worstward Ho manuscript showing that Beckett indeed attempted several revisions of his text, failing again and failing better.

Fail Better exhibition at Science Gallery in Dublin
Fail Better is a fascinating assembly of failures great and small. Some, like the production of the colour mauve, are beautiful, accidentally fortuitous discoveries of failed experiments. Some are truly unfortunate, like the Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force – which you’ll need to see to even attempt to comprehend – and the Ice Pick Lobotomy – as horrifying as the name suggests. It took James Dyson over 5,000 prototypes before he perfected the cyclonic vacuum cleaner, isn’t that somewhat reassuring to know?

The aim of Fail Better is to open up a conversation around the role failure in learning, in prototyping, in innovation and to appreciate the instructional role of failure, which is too often hidden. To do anything different, interesting or inspired you’ll likely brush with failure along the way. But failure doesn’t have to be the end point. For any aspiring artists, designers, scientists or entrepreneurs make this exhibition a stop on the journey to success.

And for anyone who’s had a recent minor failure there’s a wall of no shame where you can admit your shortcoming. It could be quite liberating.

There’s also a series of talks and guest speakers discussing their experiences of failure throughout the duration of the exhibition. For more information, check the events section of the Fail Better website.

The exhibition runs from 7 February until 27 April at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin. Admission free. Opening hours Tuesday – Friday 12:00 to 20:00 Saturday & Sunday 12:00 to 18:00. Closed Monday.

Join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FailBetter

Fail Better - Buckminster Fuller quote

Science Gallery at TCD in Dublin

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