Significant – A Bunch of Viruses

An Exhibition by Helen Birnbaum

5 March – 10 April 2020

Exhibition Private View Thursday 5 March, 6 – 8pm 2020.
Open weekdays from 9am – 7pm in term and 9am – 5pm out of term.

Works are located on the plinths in the atrium of the ARB.

Significant – Bunch of Viruses, 2017

How do we remember medial pioneers who have changed the path of humanity by saving us all from infection? Should we put a bunch of flowers on their graveside, or by their favourite place, and sit and remember them?

The strangely beautiful world of microbes is explored in this exhibition, using mixed media and ceramic bouquets; the Influenza virus sits on weighing scales balanced against a large vaccine producing egg; Tuberculosis bacteria sprout from milk bottles; the HIV virus flows from an old urinal jar, and Smallpox virus cluster together as if actually inside the bloodstream. 

Helen Birnbaum, Quarantine Boxes

Quarantine Boxes, 2019

Collections of ephemera and tiny microbial sculptures are contained inside old wooden boxes, suggesting containment of the disease, of putting them into isolation or quarantine. They also act as coffins and as a way to remember the individuals lost to these diseases. 

Helen Birnbaum creates stories in clay, using this ancient material to explore modern imagery and mythologies of our lives today. Helen has exhibited at the World Museum Liverpool, the Gordon Museum at Guy’s Hospital, and Art Box Basel. In 2018 she won the Victoria & Albert Museum/Morley Gallery Ceramic prize. In 2014 she was resident Ceramic Artist at Liverpool Hope University.

Helen would like to thank the immunologist Matthew Helbert for his advice in creating these works. 
See more of her work with bacteria and viruses

Part of the Cambridge Festival of Science