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Image of the Week: Stitching Science

23 Jan, 2015

Invisible You: The Human Microbiome’

For our Image of the Week this week we have a special guest post from artist and researcher Rebecca Harris…

This image shows part of my commission for the Eden Project’s new permanent exhibition ‘Invisible You: The Human Microbiome’ opening late April 2015. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, I am creating a hand and machine embroidered textile wall-hanging depicting a pregnant figure, which explores how microbes form us.

Our bodies are an enormous microbial communities, which work together to keep us healthy and as such we are referred to as an eco-system.  Using this analogy of the body being like a geographical area, I established a method of representing the two-dimensional body with a three-dimensional effect similar to that the contours lines of a topographical map.

Translating medical imaging techniques (like MRIs) into machine stitch, I trace around each ‘slice’ of the body and the ‘landscape’ created is the chartered area of trillions of microbes to be explored and discovered. Covering this terrain are thousands of tiny hand embroidered stitches, French knots, to represent the microbial communities, which create a beautiful and seductive surface of ‘colonies’ occupying our ‘landscape’.

Working with Professor Michael Wilson, from UCL, we have ensured that the colours I use represent the main types of microbes.  I wanted to give the viewer the sense of the varying settlements around the different parts of our bodies.

As many hours are yet to be spent sewing these tiny ‘microbes’ I am taking the work out into my local community to sit and sew, whilst talking about the ideas with interested viewers.  The first date is at the Eden Project on 10th and 11th February.  More details about these events can be found on my artist page.

Image credit: Rebecca D Harris.

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