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Wellcome Collection acquires ’Swine Flu’ sculpture


Wellcome Collection in central London has acquired a new and unusual glass sculpture of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus by the artist Luke Jerram.

The first public venue to purchase a rare artistic response to the swine flu outbreak, Wellcome Collection will display the sculpture in its free gallery space from Friday 25 September.

Visitors can also find out more about the H1N1 swine flu outbreak and the history of flu pandemics in a free special edition of the Wellcome Trust magazine ’Big Picture’, which can be found through the Trust’s spotlight on influenza page.

Clare Matterson, Wellcome Trust Director of Medicine, Society and History comments: “Luke Jerram’s work brings us an intriguing and visually stunning physical representation of the H1N1 virus. It offers us a point of departure to explore the impact such viruses have had on populations and to find out more about the global research to tackle them.”

Luke Jerram comments: “I created this sculpture to reflect upon the impending swine flu pandemic and the universal fascination with the topic, as presented by the media. Wellcome Collection seems the perfect fit to acquire this piece, given its focused interest in the relationship between science, medicine and the arts.”

’Swine Flu’ will initially be on display at Wellcome Collection from Friday 25 September until 18 October 2009. It will then be on loan to the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo for ’Medicine and Art’, an exhibition including artworks from Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn and Leonardo da Vinci.

The exhibition, a collaboration between Wellcome Collection and the Mori Art Museum, has been inspired by and will include an extensive number of objects from Wellcome Collection, and will run from 28 November 2009 to 28 February 2010.

To coincide with the display of ’Swine Flu’ at Wellcome Collection, the Smithfield Gallery in east London will present for the first time an entire body of work by Jerram that contemplates the global impact and history of disease. ’Viral Sculptures’ will run from 22 September to 3 October 2009.

Notes to editors

Wellcome Collection Supper Club
Luke Jerram on street pianos and sky orchestras
Wednesday 30 September, 19.00-21.30

Luke Jerram is an internationally established installation artist, whose projects range from the vast hot-air balloon performance artwork ’Sky Orchestra’ to the ’Talking Engagement Ring’ he made for his girlfriend. He is the brains behind the ’Play Me I’m Yours’ project - in which street pianos were placed around London for anyone to play - and a mass sleepover that aimed to influence the sleepers’ dreams. Join Luke to hear about his adventures at the boundaries of art and science.

For more details see Luke Jerram’s website.

Cost: £25 including two-course dinner and two glasses of wine. To book call 020 7611 2222.
For more details see Wellcome Collection’s events page.

’Swine Flu’ by Luke Jerram has been purchased by Wellcome Collection for £5000.

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

The Wellcome Trust’s former headquarters, the Wellcome Building on London’s Euston Road, has been redesigned by Hopkins Architects to become a new £30 million public venue. Free to all, Wellcome Collection explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The building comprises three galleries, a public events space, the Wellcome Library, a café, a bookshop, conference facilities and a members’ club.


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