Heirloom grows living portraits of Gina’s daughters from their own cells that have been cultured from a single sample taken from their mouths in 2014. They grow on delicate glass casts of their faces in the life support system that provides the best conditions for growth, outside the lab.
Combining innovative new methods and cell nurturing cocktails, using equipment readily available, over time the cells reach the thickness of tissue paper. They are then preserved, ‘lifted’ and presented as a personalised three-dimensional extra cellular matrix structure. A scientifically accurate portrait.
Heirloom is something of value passed down through generations that parents might decide to leave for – and from – their children.
The first skin growths are preserved on the original glass casts
The second glass casts are placed in media to grow new skin over the period of the exhibition
“Heirloom is an incredibly powerful artwork, very delicate and strong at the same time, both direct and poetic, with many layers.”
Annick Bureaud, Leonardo/Olatts
Collaborators & Contributors
Heirloom is by Gina Czarnecki and John Hunt with Saskia and Lola Czarnecki-Stubbs
Trust Me, I’m an Artist Lead Artist: Anna Dumitriu
Trust Me, I’m an Artist Lead Ethicist: Bobbie Farsides
Heirloom UK Contributors and Collaborators:
The University of Liverpool
Liverpool John Moors University
Liverpool Hope University
Glyndwr University: Dave Jones (face casting)
Prof. Andy Wright
Radames Anja, FactLab Liverpool
Jen Baxter, glass artist (glass face casts)
DoES Liverpool: James Nixon (3D printing)
Facelab at LJMU: Mark Roughly (3D face scans)
Polly Moseley (concept engagement and evaluation)
Dan Farrimond (web and live feed)
Artist’s Assistant: Emma Boutet
Medical Museion Curatorial Team:
Louise Whiteley (lead curator)
Malthe Boye Bjerregaard (technical lead curator)
Medical Museion Design and Production:
Anne Kathrine Baastrup
Funding and Support
This project was developed through Arts Council England Lottery Funding to Gina Czarnecki. It was developed for exhibition under the framework of the EU-funded Trust me, I’m an Artist, and further supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Section for Science Communication and Arbejdsmarkedets Feriefond.
Trust Me, I’m an Artist: Developing Ethical Frameworks for Artists, Cultural Institutions and Audiences Engaged in the Challenges of Creating and Experiencing New Art Forms in Biotechnology and Biomedicine in Europe is supported by funding from Creative Europe and is a collaboration between Waag Society, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, The Arts Catalyst, Ciant, Kapelica Gallery, Medical Museion, Capsula and Leonardo/Olats.
Please contact Debbi Lander at for bookings and enquiries.
Heirloom is available for touring from mid 2018