Did you ever wonder what Swine Flu actually looked like? National Glass Centre’s latest Craft & Design Showcase presents viruses magnified in size a million times enabling us to visualise the viruses behind the headlines.
Luke Jerram’s ‘Glass Microbiology’ reveals microscopic virus, such as, HIV and Swine Flu, magnified and made in lamp-worked glass. Lampworking is the technique of forming objects from rods and tubes of glass. The tubes, when heated in a flame, become soft and can be manipulated into shape.
The transparent glass sculptures were created to contemplate the global impact of each disease and to consider how the artificial colouring of scientific imagery affects our understanding of phenomena. Jerram explores the tension between the artworks' beauty, what they represent and their impact on humanity.
The sculptures were designed in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol using a combination of different scientific photographs and models. They were made in collaboration with NGC-based lamp workers Brian Jones and Norman Veitch (Wearside Glass Sculptures).
Jerram said "It's great to be exploring the edges of scientific understanding and visualisation of a virus.......I'm also pushing the boundaries of glassblowing. Some of my designs simply can't be created in glass. Some are simply too fragile and gravity would cause them to collapse under their own weight. So there's a very careful balancing act that needs to take place, between exploring current scientific knowledge and the limitations of glassblowing techniques."
‘Glass Microbiology’ will be on display until 3 October in the Craft & Design Showcase, next to the NGC shop on the lower floor of National Glass Centre. All works are for sale.
Image courtesy Wellcome Collection, London.