Talk by Coral Manton – November 2019

In November 2019 we had Dr Coral Manton from Bath Spa University speak to the group:

Algorave live-coding, AI activisim and historical visualisation with Coral Manton

Algoraves are about dancing to live music and visuals made with code.

Coral Manton is an interdisciplinary artist, game developer and technologist with a specialism in data visualisation, interactive design, VR/Mixed-Reality, immersive experiences and live-coding. She is Lecturer in Creative Computing at Bath Spa University.

Coral gave a talk on live-coding music and visuals using open-source software, and present two recent projects, a design activism project, Women Reclaiming AI and a historical visualisation prototype she has created for the SWCTN. She also included a short workshop in making music and visuals with code – as a taster to algorave.

Take a look at Run the code: is algorave the future of dance music?

Talk by Will Stahl-Timmins Feb 2020 – video on Youtube

In collaboration with the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at Bristol, we hosted Will Stahl-Timmins from the BMJ coming to talk about infographics – details below.

Information graphics in health science – Dr Will Stahl-Timmins, BMJ

February 10th 2020

Will Stahl-Timmins is data graphics designer for The BMJ, where he designs and commissions infographics, data visualisations and interactive pieces to update busy health professionals on the latest developments in health science. He will be explaining the design process used at The BMJ – from raw copy submitted by academic authors and journalists, through roughs and ideation, negotiation with authors, to realisation, coding interactivity and publishing the graphics. He will also discuss some of the skills and techniques needed for producing data graphics for web and print, and highlight some ways that individuals and teams could make use of design methods to explain complex health data.


Will’s talk can be found on YouTube here

He can be found on Twitter here

Online seminars on health visualisation – Sept 2020

On 28th September 2020 we held out first online data visualisation session, with the following 2 talks:

Talk 1: “Mapping community resilience and vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic. ” Nina Di Cara (Population Health Sciences, UoB)

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK there was a need to understand which communities needed the most help from the government and third-sector, as well as which communities were already supporting themselves through mutual aid efforts.

In partnership with Public Health Wales our group, the Dynamic Genetics lab, developed a novel visualisation of need and support in Wales by drawing together multiple data sources, from administrative data to social media feeds (available at The map allows users to dynamically explore the distribution of vulnerability and support by combining different datasets of interest, which allows users to answer the most relevant questions to their use-case. In this talk we will discuss the process of developing the map, the tools we used, and our reflections on developing data science resources for decision making in a crisis.

Nina’s slides can be found here Nina Data Vis Group – COVID-19 Map.


Talk 2: “Using d3.js to visualise food hazards in the United Kingdom” Robert Eyre – winner of the most recent JGI data visualisation competition

No abstract – Robert will talk about the design process behind his winning visualisation for the 2020 JGI data visualisation competition, which can be seem here

Robert’s slides can be found here dvg_robert_eyre

Introduction to d3.js by Gizat Makhanov – 9th July 2019

We really enjoyed hearing about the potentials of d3.js and seeing some of the visuals it can create. If you would like the slides Gizat has been kind enough to share them with the group, please email the organisers for a copy.

Gizat was also able to give us an insight into a project he is working on, making a visualisation of the London Marathon data (, using these for inspiration & Hopefully he will be back to share the finished visual with the group!


Other useful links:

d3 galleries:


Data Visualisation Techniques in R – April 30th

Osama Mahmoud gave us a talk on the basics of data visualisation in R. He covered base graphics and ggplot2 in a really simple and helpful way, particularly for those who are less familiar with R. His slides are here: Data visualisation techniques using R


We were particularly impressed with the BristolVis R package he has designed, which provides interactive practicals to introduce data visualisation in R and an interactive webtool.


Osama Mahmoud can be contacted by email and was happy to help any of the group with data visualisation inR, for contact details see his website

Meeting 25th February 2019

Visual Vocabulary Discussion Session

This was a presentation and discussion session, covering visual vocabulary (deciding what graphics to use with your data), applications to big data, graphics tools and infographics, with lots of examples. Harriet and Polly ran the session with lots of interaction from the audience (Thank you!). We have attached the slides which were presented here: VisualVocab_Feb25th-20ktc47

There was additional discussion on actually designing your visualisation. Andy Kirk’s webinar – Mastering the Art of Data Visualisation Design – was recommended, as were the books, courses and resources from Edward Tufte. We will look into getting a seminar on the subject if we can find a suitable speaker – recommendations please!

We also discussed infographics and I was particularly interested to hear that some journals do encourage this sort of graphic – indeed, the BMJ actually has a member of staff to design infographics and data visualisations, Will Stahl-Timmons, and we found a good example of his work in a blog post.

The following sites were also recommended – leaning towards the data journalism side with some neat examples:  “explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays. By wielding original datasets, primary research, and interactivity, we try to thoroughly explore complex topics.” “We help brands turn data into interactive stories and analytics tools”


Thanks to all who came to the session and I hope that it was of interest to you. As always, we would love your feedback and please do let us know if you have ideas for sessions you would like to see run ( We really want these sessions to be useful for the group and can only do that with your input too!

Meeting 12th December 2018

12th December – “The Clifton Suspension Bridge Dashboard, Data Visualisation from the Sublime to the Ridiculous”

This meeting featured a talk from Sam Gunner: ‘The Clifton Suspension Bridge Dashboard, Data Visualisation from the Sublime to the Ridiculous’.

Talk overview

“During the Clifton Suspension Bridge Dashboard Project, we employed a wide spectrum of different data visualisation techniques.  At one end was the time series database visualisation software Grafana, an open source web interface that provides a very intuitive way of visualising and disseminating time series data.  At the more imaginative end, the JGI commissioned two artists to convert the data into music, and the double robotic harp in the shape of the Clifton Suspension Bridge that they created (although possibly stretching the definition of data visualisation) has proved to be an incredibly successful mechanism for publicising the project and educating the general public, in this case in the field of Infrastructure Health Monitoring.

In my talk I’ll discuss the technical aspects of both these types of data visualisation, and hope to demonstrate their power, especially when used together.” Sam Gunner

Some more information about the Clifton Suspension Bridge Harp can be found in the report on the JGI website.

Meeting 13th September 2018

13th September 2018

In this session we watched a TEDtalk and had some flash presentations.
For those who weren’t able to make it, here’s the link to the TED talk by Beau Lotto that we discussed: Thanks for the really interesting discussion of how visual perception and optical illusions interact with data vis!
Related to this, we highlighted artist Luke Jerram’s current exhibition “The Impossible Garden” in the University Botanic Garden, a set of experimental sculptures exploring visual phenomena, open until 25th November ( Luke will also be delivering this year’s Richard Gregory Memorial Lecture at 6pm on Tuesday 13th November, titled “Exploring the Edges of Perception”. Details here:
Thanks too to our presenters. This year we’re introducing a new show-and-tell format, with three-minute lightning presentations. These can be about anything you like, such as a visualisation you’ve seen and liked, a tool you’ve used, a project you’ve been working on or a problem you’d like help with. The idea is that these are low pressure and should require minimal preparation. We think it worked really well, so do let us know if there’s something you’d like to share at a future meeting. Having said that, there’s no obligation to present, so if you’d like to just come along and watch, that’s fine too.
We also discussed an upcoming opportunity to influence the data visualisation infrastructure available at the University’s new Temple Quarter site. Do let us know if you’ve seen an exciting data visualisation set-up elsewhere that you’d like to bring to Bristol.
Finally, Polly announced a Tableau workshop she’s arranged for 7 November 2018 10.00-12.00 in the Seminar Room, Beacon House. This is one of our most requested training topics, so sign up here if you’d like to learn more:

Atmospheric quality data visualisation labs – May and June 2018

Our second data lab for 2018 used Atmospheric quality data provided by Guy Barkley from Atmotech.

24th May 2018 – Atmospheric quality data visualisation lab (1)

Guy Barkley from Atmotech introduced us to the work they do and the time-series data he kindly provided for the group on atmospheric quality.

Atmotech is an air quality services business. They deploy IoT sensor modules around sites and present the data to clients – ‘building a picture of air quality’ – in addition to professional services to help improve air quality on site and ultimately reduce exposure to our clients’ staff. They are interested in novel and intuitive methods of displaying our data, which readily engage people and facilitate understanding.

We asked the group to use this data to create data visualisations (as teams or individuals), which will then be presented in a follow-up session to skill-share and learn.


7th June 2018 – Atmospheric quality data visualisation (2)

This second session is the follow-up session of the data viz lab. Here, those who had created some visualisations on the atmospheric data presented their work to the group, followed by a discussion of the works and the tools used.