I have just started a project with a researcher at Oxford University’s Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine (and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics). This Wellcome Trust funded project has been made possible via Oxford Printmakers.

 

The scientist, Annina Graedel  has given me access to her research, she explains what it’s all about: “The T cells of the immune system are responsible for defending us against infections, but they need to learn not to attack our own body. They learn this in an organ called the thymus. T cells failing to be tolerant to their own body leads to autoimmune diseases… I am studying the regulation of gene expression that lies at the basis of this tolerance mechanism.”

 

The images of T-cells and the graphs on which she plots them are visually stunning and an inspirational impetus for my videos, prints and paintings.

 

 

I’m looking forward to developing new work with Annina.


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I was really pleased to discover this review of my collaboration with Annina:

As part of a public engagement project at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, our Department offered one DPhil student the exciting opportunity to work together with a local artist from the Oxford Printmakers Co-op to create an artwork based on their research. Annina Grädel won the bid to take this project forward and worked together with painter-printmaker and video-artist Jonathan Moss. The result is a stunning lightbox – a reflection of T cells in the thymus.

It is fascinating to have the unique opportunity to see your own research through completely different eyes. The collaboration with Jonathan made me focus on the “raw information” that is conveyed in my graphs and images, rather than the technical details and analyses my work normally focuses on.- Annina Grädel

The T cells of the immune system are responsible for defending us against infections, but they need to learn not to attack our own body. They learn this in an organ called the thymus. When T cells fail to be tolerant to their own body, this leads to autoimmune disease. Annina studies the genetics of this tolerance mechanism. The lightbox is Jonathan’s interpretation of Annina’s work.

The project culminated in an exhibition of all the artworks at Fushion Arts Oxford with a day of family fun where children and adults could engage with artworks as well as table top science.

The artwork will be displayed in the Department and will also make another outing to be exhibited in the JR between 21st of January – 3rd of March 2017. More details about where will follow nearer the time.

To read a bit more about the collaboration, visit Jonathan’s blog. You can also watch a video of the artwork here. We are very pleased to know that Jonathan has found so much inspiration in Annina’s work that he is currently creating more artworks which he will exhibit in due course.

 

https://www.paediatrics.ox.ac.uk/news/art-and-science


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I’ve been working on the first plate of the new series of engravings since Annina sent me a new microscopy file with more detail. I’m pleased that I’ve found a press large enough to print it on, at Spike Island, and shall be contacting them in the new year. Just the small task of engraving it to tackle first!


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Yesterday, Fusion Arts in Oxford hosted a day for scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics to talk about their research to the local community – they made it accessible and fun.

My children loved it. One made a bracelet based on DNA formation and the other played a DNA code breaking game.

My lightbox was on show in this first of a series of events for the project.

 


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It’s such a relief that almost all the plates worked well, on a technical level and on a visual level.

Given that the microscopy image of the nuclei (the blue image my lightbox was based upon) reminded me of a carborundum print, it is disappointing that my carborundum print didn’t work as well as the others. Now I need to work into the plate more to develop the image.

The prints from the engraved plate has a depth to the lines, the drypoints, a purity of line and the etched perspex plates, which seemed to be pretty ugly, beautiful textures.

I shall now edition them and get going with the large versions.


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Thanks to Annina, the researcher I’m working with, the collaboration is inspiring. Here are some of her thoughts:

It is fascinating to have the unique opportunity to see your own research through completely different eyes. The collaboration with Jonathan made me focus on the “raw information” that is conveyed in my graphs and images, rather than the technical details and analyses my work normally focuses on. Through Jonathan’s eyes, flow cytometry graphs became a video and a glimpse through the microscope became layers of engraved perspex.

The light box is a fascinating reflection of the thymus that I observe through the microscope. For me the multiple layers reflect the network through which the T cells travel and where their fate is decided by the thymic epithelial cells. By slightly changing the angle of observation the image changes and becomes dynamic, just like the thymus itself, which allows our body to constantly adapt to new immune challenges.

Working with an artist on my research topic has been incredibly interesting and it made me realize that even though our work is very different, in the end, we are both trying to find new and interesting information by experimenting – me in the laboratory and Jonathan in his studio.


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