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“The white-cube space of Studio 3 Gallery has been transformed into a dark and strange chamber. Within it, it brings together newly commissioned artworks and historical objects in a modern Cabinet of Curiosities. Exploring themes of mortality, time, memory, and metamorphosis, artwork and non-art pieces, work in balance to create an aesthetic located somewhere between a dusty old museum and a contemporary gallery.”

Within this collection, you will find the Biological Hermeneutic Library, illuminating some yet to be identified dehydrated bacteria cultivated from a 1735 copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This is one of the many artworks coming from the Transdisciplinary team – Metamorphoses In Art and Science and made in collaboration with our studios here and Surrey University.

The bacteria were isolated from the colonies that arose from a process developed by Sarah and Dr Simon Park which they currently call Biological Hermeneutic Printing. Their bacterial prints were then sub-cultured by ‘streak dilution’ to ensure pure strains of book bacteria were attained, then subsequently stored in cryovials at -80 degrees centigrade ready for DNA analysis.

Instead of disposing of the used petri dishes and agar, as is the usual practice in labs, Sarah and Simon, carefully dried the bacteriological agar to generate thin, glass-like films to preserve the biological information. The softly illuminated cabinet in which they sit, subsequently transforms these specimens into small and intriguing pieces of colourful, bacterial data.

“What this cabinet reveals is poetic: a silent beauty. For although the viewer is met with the discovery of an unexpected wonder, The Biological Hermeneutic Library sheds a partial light into the bacterial beauty of the microbial world unseen by the human eye.” – Mariam Subzhadinova

The exhibition also features loans from the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, and the University of Kent’s Special Collections as well as works from artists Kirsten Baskett, Sarah Craske, Tessa Farmer, Paul Hazelton, Mair Hughes, Bridget Kennedy and Polly Morgan.


More information about the exhibition is available here.

Go and See Curio from:

30 September – 2 December 2016

Monday – Friday, 11am-5pm, Admission Free

Studio 3 Gallery, School of Arts, Jarman Building, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7UG