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Glass Microbiology

Going Viral: Luke Jerram’s Glass Microbiology

Glass Microbiology – a collaboration between internationally renowned Bristol artist Luke Jerram and local scientists – is coming to At-Bristol, and our excitement is infectious

Remember Luke Jerram, the multidisciplinary Bristol artist who brought us the giant Park Street waterslide? And the flotilla of abandoned fishing boats in the depths of Leigh Woods? Ah yes, that guy – now you do. Well, over the past decade he’s looked at the synergy between art and science, and created something quite beautifully, wonderfully unique (we’d expect nothing less), occupying the exciting space where these two subjects meet in his Glass Microbiology collection.

“The integration of art, science and culture is an urgent and wonderful quest where beautiful new ideas and experiences can arise” – Anna Starkey, At-Bristol’s creative director

Glass MicrobiologySalmonella © Luke Jerram

Through eight jewel-like sculptures, Glass Microbiology – showing in At-Bristol’s new art-science space The Box from the 4 Feb – brings the usually invisible world of deadly viruses to life, showcasing accurate representations of how they appear under the microscope. Designed in consultation with virologists, including those at the University of Bristol, and using a combination of different scientific photographs and models, the sculptures depict infections such as Zika, HIV, SARS and Smallpox, and were made in collaboration with glassblowers Brian Jones and Norman Veitch.

Glass Microbiology

Smallpox, ‘Untitled Future Mutation’ & HIV © Luke Jerram

“After more than 10 years of development, it’s great to be able to present this body of artwork in Bristol,” said Luke, who builds specialist teams of engineers, craftsmen and technicians – even hot air balloonists – to help realise his works, and is known worldwide for his large-scale public installations. (We loved Play Me I’m Yours, which saw over 1,500 street pianos installed in more than 50 cities, for the public to play.) “The Box is great new arts space and opportunity for the artistic and scientific communities of the city to come together.”

Glass Microbiology

Swine Flu © Luke Jerram

“The integration of art, science and culture is an urgent and wonderful quest where beautiful new ideas and experiences can arise,” added Anna Starkey, At-Bristol’s creative director. “Luke is an artist whose practice occupies this highly inventive world between disciplines – generating new approaches in the process. His Glass Microbiology work has influenced the way scientists visualise viruses, as much as the scientific subject influenced the art to begin with. Luke’s sculptures can be found around the world, and so we’re delighted to be able to present this particular collection for the first time in his home city.”

Opening on 4 February, Glass Microbiology will run until September, and is included in the At-Bristol general admission price.

at-bristol.org.uk; lukejerram.com