luke jerram's intricate glasswork series depicts some of the most fatal viruses

Mar 25, 2022

developed by artist luke jerram since 2004, ‘glass microbiology’ is a glasswork series that represent different viruses and bacteria — including also a few that cause some of the most fatal diseases. in a scale up to one million times the size of the actual cells, the sculptures precisely depict the intricate shape of viruses, as if being observed through a microscope. through his delicate artwork, the british artist seeks to create alternative colorless representations of viruses that come in juxtaposition to the artificially colored imagery received via the media, such as the famous red depiction of the SARS coronavirus or the vibrant HIV that comes in multi-color variations.

‘how many people believe viruses are brightly colored?’, luke jerram is questioning the global impact of each disease.

we grow up with biology books overflowing with colorful illustrations, which definitely change the way one reads and interprets these phenomena. therefore, in an attempt to change the inaccurate image that sees the viruses inherently multicolored, ‘glass microbiology’ collection is defined by transparency and crystal-clear detail. through his work, the artist seeks to communicate crucial information about the shape and structure of viruses and bacteria that are no longer based on colors.

during the coronavirus pandemic, his sculptures served internationally for science communication. they were designed in cooperation with virologists from the university of bristol, using a combination of different scientific photographs and models. afterwards, they were constructed in collaboration with glassblowers kim george, brian jones and norman veitch.

a big number of these delicate artworks are located 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. in fact, some of them are sold to private collectors, famous pop stars, celebrities, and scientists.

‘SARS coronavirus’

project info:

name: glass microbiology sculptures

artist: luke jerram

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