Eden has previously explored all kinds of ecosystems but until now, one has been missing - the invisible community of the body. Human Microbiome is the phrase used to refer to the community of microbes, comprising bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on and in every one of us.
Jo Elworthy, Eden’s Interpretation Director, said: "These trillions of microbes outnumber our cells ten to one and, in the main, work together to keep us healthy - whether it’s the bacteria in the gut helping to digest our food or the microbes on our skin working to keep it soft. This fascinating new exhibition is one of the most compelling and important we have ever staged."
For the exhibition, which opens this spring, Eden has commissioned 11 artists to create new exhibits that explore the unfolding story of the human microbiome.
Jo Elworthy added: "We are really excited about the diversity of work that has been put together. We have fabulous collaborations between artists and scientists, and will be presenting an amazing collection of new artworks. You may even be able to see what your microbiome looks like, with your own belly-button portrait."
The full list of artists contributing to the exhibition is:
Rebecca D. Harris, one of the artists contributing to the exhibition, made the news recently after a picture of her work, which depicts a naked pregnant woman, was rejected by Facebook for violating their guidelines.
Tom Anthony, National Programmes Adviser at the Wellcome Trust, said: "The huge impact that the human microbiome has on health is becoming clearer and clearer. Invisible You is a fantastic project that will allow the Eden Project’s large public audience access to the science and research behind our understanding of our own internal ecosystem, through the medium of art. The Wellcome Trust has a long history of supporting high quality collaborations that help artists, scientists and the public to engage with complex issues that affect human health, and we’re delighted to be able to help bring a topic this compelling to a venue as unique as the Eden Project – we can’t wait to see it."
In association with the exhibition, Eden has set a design brief for this year’s RSA Student Design Awards. The brief, entitled Human by Nature, asks students to design a means of encouraging people to take care of their microbiome. The winner will have their work displayed as part of the exhibition and awarded an internship(opens in a new tab) with the in-house design team.
The exhibition, which launches 22 May, 2015, will be in Eden’s education centre, the Core. A family-focused programme of activities, 'Strange Science', will follow during May half-term (May 22-31).
The exhibition and programme of events is supported by a multi-disciplinary advisory group made up of scientists, industry specialists and creatives from universities and research institutions across the world as well as an internal project team.
More information is available on the Eden Project website(opens in a new tab).
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.
Our investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art.