A small dark room on the first floor of At-Bristol is illuminated with glass sculptures of the world’s most epidemic causing viruses – on a scale more than a million times larger than their biological state.
The light that shines from each sculpture hits the walls of their surrounding boxes. On closer inspection, these form a kaleidoscopic view of a mesmerisingly intricate virus structure drawn by nature itself but recreated in sculptural form by the artist Luke Jerram.
Jerram – best known for his Park Street water slide and street pianos – has installed a stunning cabinet of curiosity to celebrate some of the greatest global discoveries in microbiology inside At-Bristol’s exhibition space, The Box, an exciting new space where science and art meet.
Jerram’s Glass Microbiology exhibition features eight jewel-like representations of deadly viruses such as HIV, zika and malaria. The works have previously been featured at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Shanghai Museum of Glass.
The artist describes the creations as “a balancing act between visual aesthetic, structural qualities and a highly accurate understanding of science”.
It is a meticulous creative process taking three months per sculpture, with Jerram’s hand drawings signed off by some of the leading scientists in virology before being welded into their giant three dimensional glass form with both astonishing scientific accuracy and artistic beauty.
“All the biggest changes in the world have been caused and defined by science so it makes sense to incorporate its themes into my practice,” Jerram told Bristol24/7.
“When reading about the latest pandemic in newspapers and scientific periodicals I noticed that the photographs used to illustrate them were all in colour yet viruses are smaller than the wavelength of light hence completely colourless,” Jerram explained.
To further add to the exhibition, a series of interactive videos show detailed diagrams of each virus.
The Box presents: Glass Microbiology is on display in At-Bristol from February 4 to September 4. For more information, visit www.at-bristol.org.uk/event/box-presents-glass-microbiology