The origins of imaging cells fascinate me, I’ve found a lot of inspiration in the engravings of Robert Hooke who was the first to explore this new world. His study of the cork cell, made possible by his development of the microscope, led the way for cell theory. He published his findings in Micrographia (1665), and wrote of the cork cell: “these pores, or cells…were indeed the first microscopical pores I ever saw, and perhaps, that were ever seen, for I had not met with any writer or person, that had made any mention of them before this…”. My own experience of cells first-hand through a microscope is fascinating, but a pale reflection of the excitement Hooke must have felt the first time he explored them.

So far, I’ve been experimenting with various magnifications of leaves, fruit etc. discovering new incredible landscapes, inspirational in themselves, but with very little personal interest to me beyond visual stimulation and reflecting how I would interpret them in pencil, ink and paint.

The cells have to be my own, so I’m starting with my own blood.


In kickstarting my new body of work, I came across this great quote summing up macro and micro written in 1629 by Constantijn Huygens: “If nothing else, let us learn this, that the estimation, which we commonly make of the size of things, is variable, untrustworthy, and fatuous insofar as we believe that we can eliminate every comparison and can discern any great difference in size merely by the evidence of our senses. Let us in short be aware that it is impossible to call anything “little” or “large” except by comparison. And then, as a result, let us firmly establish the proposition that the multiplying of bodies… is infinite; once we accept this as a fundamental rule then no body, even the most minute, may be so greatly magnified by lenses without there being reason to assert that it can be magnified more by other lenses, and then by still others, and so on endlessly.”

Having acquired a microscope, my new project: ‘Self / Cell’ starts with a sample of my own blood…