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Cancer or Art?

Would you hang cancer on your walls?

“Science and art once held hands. Robert Hooke, 17th century pioneer of microscopy, did a beautiful picture of a flea, enormously magnified, that is a classic of English draughtsmanship. The scientist-illustrators in the tenth Wellcome Image Awards are generally photographers. The camera, at least, provides most of their material. Still, they can’t help being artists too. However functional their illustrations are, function will not dictate every decision,” writes The Independent’s Tom Lubbock. He describes an exhibition full of things you can’t identify by eye, of biological entities (such as lung cancer cells), with startling shapes, colours and ethereal qualities that appear beautiful to the onlooker unaware that they are admiring a deadly virus. He says: “But with all these images, there is a subtext too. What looks quasi-abstract is in fact definitely representational of something quite else. And the puzzling question – it arises in art galleries too – is this: do you look at the caption? Do you find out what these weird patterns really are?”


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