La Grand Arche Paris

Mural Art by Florence Blanchard

This summer I’ll be taking part in 2 interesting exhibitions: Adventures in Modern Abstraction at Stolen Space gallery in London, and This Will Ruin Everything at The Light House in Glasgow.

Last month I went to Paris to paint on the 19th floor of iconic building La Grande Arche. Pretty cool hollow cubic building from the late 80’s which is aligned with Champs Elysée, L’Arc de Triomphe and Le Louvre!DSC_1312_72DSC_1324_72

From wikipedia: ‘A great national design competition was launched in 1982 as the initiative of French president François Mitterrand. Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen (1929–1987) and Danish engineer Erik Reitzel designed the winning entry to be a late-20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories. La Grande Arche was inaugurated in July 1989, with grand military parades that marked the bicentennial of the French Revolution. It completed the line of monuments that forms the Axe historique running through Paris.’

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Biomembrane – Festival Of The Mind 2016

I am delighted to present my newest mural here – a collaboration with CBMNet at the University Of Sheffield, in conjunction with Festival Of The Mind 2016 / Fear of the Unseen: Engineering Good Bacteria.

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The ‘Crossing Biological Membranes Network’ is composed of scientists working to understand the mechanisms by which substances are transported into, within, and out of cells. Their ultimate aim is to produce knowledge which will enable the development of new technologies in the Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy sector (eg: producing biofuels using E coli bacteria).

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My role in this collaboration has been to translate the CBMNet area of work into a large outdoor mural located within the university campus. For this occasion I have presented my interpretation of a detail of a cell membrane as seen under an electron microscope, having undergone a cryofracture. A cryofracture is  a procedure in which the sample is frozen quickly and then  broken with a sharp blow so you are able to study its structure in very close detail – Imagine breaking a bar of chocolate with hazelnuts, this way you can see how hazelnuts are positioned inside the bar…

For an online animation of a biomembrane cryofracture follow this link: http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/530082/view

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There is an incredible amount of information available about the structure & functioning of a biological membrane, and many ways to interpret this artistically. I chose to stick with the basic knowledge that biomembranes are mainly composed of the following molecules: phopholipids, cholesterol, proteins and carbohydrate ramifications (see diagram below), and that at any moment smaller molecules are transiting through it in both directions. All these elements are represented on the final visual.

 

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Above: Diagram of a small portion of cell membrane

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Learning the structure of biological membranes was one of my favourite topics during my PhD because it involved lots of drawing. Typically a biomembrane is made of two thin lipid sheets stuck together with large elements (proteins) inserted through them. In a cell, this molecular ensemble surrounds and prevents the inside of the cell from being in contact with the outside of the cell. This structure is highly dynamic: proteins move within this ‘bilayer’ in 2 dimensions to specific locations when the cell needs it. In order to represent this in an accurate diagram, you need to draw a 3 dimensions structure, which mostly had 2 dimensional capabilities, on a (2 dimensional) piece of paper – woo ha!

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This project was made possible by Festival Of The Mind and BBSRC.  Thank you Jen Vanderhoven from CBMNet for inviting me and Mika Ohtsuki for helping out with the mural. A projection of a short documentary about the project is planned on Sept 19 at Spiegeltent FOTM: Fear of the Unseen: Engineering Good Bacteria

 

MOFO festival // Hobart Tasmania

Painting by Florence Blanchard

IMG_4153_1200I spent the beginning of this year in Australia, painting walls in Melbourne & Hobart. I had an amazing time hanging out in the beautiful nature of Tasmania, such a great way to start the year. One of the murals I painted was in one of the venues of MOFO festival in Hobart. I also painted another mural with Kid Acne in the city center. I wish for more positive vibes like this for this year. A big thank you to Kira for organising everything, you’re the best!Painting by Florence BlanchardPainting by Florence BlanchardIMG_4029_1200IMG_1735_Florence_Blanchard_1200IMG_4208_1200IMG_4186_1200IMG_4199_1200IMG_3977_1200IMG_4003_1200IMG_1733_Florence_Blanchard_1200IMG_1557_1200