British artist Luke Jerram depicts various viruses and bacteria, including those that cause some of the deadliest diseases, in his glass microbiology sculpture series.
Through his work, Luke Jerram seeks to create alternative colorless images of viruses that contrast with the artificially colored images popular in the media. “How many people think viruses are brightly colored?” the artist asks. We grew up with biology books full of colorful illustrations that influence how a person perceives these phenomena. The sculptures, made to a scale one million times the size of real viruses, accurately depict their complex shape, as if they were observed through a microscope.
In an attempt to change the distorted idea that viruses are originally multi-colored, the Glass Microbiology collection was born. Its sculptures are characterized by transparency and fine detailing to convey to viewers important information about the shape and structure of viruses and bacteria.
Luke Jerram started the series back in 2004, and during the coronavirus pandemic, his work has been used internationally for scientific communication. The models were created in collaboration with virologists at the University of Bristol, using a combination of various scientific photographs and models, and brought to life by glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones, and Norman Veitch. Luke Jerram’s work is in permanent museum collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Wellcome Collection in London and the Museum of Glass in Shanghai.