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Heirloom - Gina Czarnecki

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.

“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

View Annick Burreaud's article for Leonardo 'Sleeping Beauties'


Gina Czarnecki & John Hunts article for Leonardo: 

Louise Whiteley's article about Heirloom:

Collaborators & Contributors

Heirloom is by Gina Czarnecki and John Hunt with Saskia and Lola Czarnecki-Stubbs

Scientific Collaborators:

Rod Dillon, University of Lancaster

Caroline Wilkinson, Liverpool John Moores University

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)

Bronac Ferran

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)

Karin Tybjerg

Bente Vinge Pedersen

Student Assistants:     

Thorbjørn Bornhøft

Caroline Klint Johannesen

Medical Museion Design and Production:

Anne Kathrine Baastrup

Ane Pilegaard Sørensen

Daniel Noesgaard

Niels Christian Bech Vilstrup

Nanna Gerdes

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

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