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.