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.

Florence_Blanchard_Art_Science

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).

IMG_2317_Florence_Blanchard_1200
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

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 14.01.09

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.

 

illustration-medical8_fs

Above: Diagram of a small portion of cell membrane

IMG_4464

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!

Florence_Blanchard-Biomembrane_4

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

 

Der Biochemische Zyklus – The Krebs Cycle

I’m very excited to announce the unveiling of my most recent painting ‘Der Biochemische Zyklus’ – an abstract interpretation of the Krebs Cycle. This project was commissioned by The University Of Sheffield as part of Krebs Fest a week long festival aiming to celebrate the major achievements of Nobel price winner Sir Hans Krebs. The painting is now permanently displayed in Firth court at the main entrance of the university together with other Science/Art works by amazing artists such as Seiko Kinoshita, Keith Robinson, and Luke Jerram.

The Krebs cycle is a biochemical process discovered in 1937 by Prof Hans Krebs at The University Of Sheffield. This metabolic pathway explains how breathing organisms convert carbohydrates into water and carbon dioxide for usable energy in cellular respiration.

IMG_1381_Blanchard1200

The series of chemical reactions are represented by dark blue, bean-shaped molecules hovering above a dense, concentric molecular network. The length of the beans is representative of the carbon chain length of the Krebs cycle intermediates, which are actively recycled within one turn of the cycle.

_MG_8393_Blanchard1200

As these reactions occur inside a cellular structure called the mitochondrion – often referred to as ‘the powerhouse of the cell’- a depiction of the familiar folds of the mitochondrial inner membrane were incorporated as a backdrop to the circular image.

_MG_8409_Blanchard1200

The energy released during the Krebs cycle is represented by gold diamonds at specific points, ready to be transferred to, and utilized by all other biochemical processes within the cell.IMG_1396_Blanchard1200

The many blue shades in the composition refer to the dye methylene blue, which was used by Sir Hans Krebs and his predecessors to demonstrate oxido-reduction phenomena, and to identify the different elements of the cycle. White bands loosely link the different reactions and elements of the cycle and are reminiscent of the white arrows in Sir Han’s famous blackboard scheme. IMG_1400_Blanchard1200

Many thanks to the university’s amazing public engagement team, Lynne Fox, Prof Simon Foster et Al, and Prof Dave Hornby.

MARVELOSA – Art inspired by The National Fairground Archive

Just this week opened MARVELOSA a new exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of The National Fairground Archive. 5 artists including myself were commissioned to work around material available at the archive. MARVELOSA is on view until January 8 2015 at The Western Bank Library at The University Of Sheffield. It’s been an absolute pleasure working on this. More info here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/library/exhibition/marvelosaIMG_0086gold1000'

The Snake Charmer – Hand-finished 3 colour screenprint on Somerset paper

NFA20

Other artists involved in this project: Anthony Bennett, Mark Copeland, Sarah Munro, Paul Evans, Pete McKee, Zoe Beloff.

IMG_1936'

 

 

 

National Fairground Archive #NFA20

Since I came back from Japan I have been working on my next project: a series of painting & screenprints commisionned by the National Fairground Archive. The pieces will be part of an exhibition for the NFA’s 20th anniversary at the Western Bank Library early September. It’s been amazing to browse the archive which is a unique collection of material covering all aspects of the culture and history of travelling fairs and entertainment from the 1800’s to the present day.

I’ll be posting more photos of work in progress but here is a first glimpse.

IMG_0469'