A Wellcome Trust funded project Artist Anne Brodie, microbiologist Dr Simon Park and curator Dr Caterina Albano will be collaborating in researching the communication and light producing properties of bioluminescent bacteria outside of the usual confines of pure scientific practice. Over the course of 2009 we will develop a body of artwork based on less traditional scientifically quantifiable attributes; an alternative data collection based on subjectivity, emotion, playfulness and instinctive human enquiry.
The archives of Joseph Lister are held in the Wellcome Library, beautifully folded, stored and wrapped in ribbon.
They give an insight into who Joseph was; a man who bought a lot of biscuits, gave money to the poor, sometimes forgot to take his library books back, moaned to his sister Mary about not having time to write.
His personal and surgical notebooks chart the development of his theories on bacterial infection and the use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic agent. There are records of pivotal discoveries, connections and communication with Louis Pasteur, but there are also records of the mistakes, the scorings out - ‘the carbolic acid was too strong’ , ‘it didn’t work’
We used the bacterial light to illuminate Joseph Lister and in doing so felt we brought him out of the archive and back to life for just a short time.
This was made possible with the help of Rowan De Saulles, and the archivists at the Wellcome library. Thanks also to photographer Vaughan Forbes for all his help and advice.