08 June 2011

MS: the big knit

A lot of things happened to day and one of these, was an unexpected surprise from RCA and DJCAD design graduate Alison Thompson from 'Somehow Related'. She got in touch to tell me about her innovative new work. So as with all good news stories, I'm sharing it with you - enjoy! And if you're in London between 7-12 June, why not pop along to see it for yourself?

Multiple Sclerosis: the big knit was a collaborative knitting science project to promote awareness and understanding of the disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by creating a woolly art installation. The installation consists of three tableaux each highlighting a different aspect of MS: the nature of the disease, the role of genetics and the impact of our environment on the disease.

Knitters from around the United Kingdom were invited to take part in the project, through our website, by knitting elements of the tableaux and sending then in to be included in the final installation. In addition to this open invitation we ran a series of events with knitting and community groups in the Cheltenham area to provide an opportunity for knitters to engage with scientists and discuss MS. Over 70 knitters contributed to the creation of the tableaux, between them knitting over 300 items including brain cells, DNA helices and sunshines.

This installation has been created for The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2011 to support the festival talk ‘MS’ held on Sunday 12 June. During the Festival it will be the centrepiece of a drop-in knitting corner where visitors to the festival could knit their own piece of science, while also acting as the backdrop of presentations by experts in the field of MS research.

The project engages people with science through the act of creating and via the social nature of knitting. The MS: the big knit art installation will be exhibited at venues around the UK and additional knitting workshops are planned for the future.

DNA and Multiple sclerosis. 

Each human cell contains approximately 2 m of DNA. In this tableau we’re exploring how all the DNA is packaged so that it fits inside the cell without getting tangled. Secondly we’ve shown some of the mechanisms that are used to control the reading of DNA to make protein, (a process known as transcription) that are thought to be important in MS. These are epigenetic modifications and transcription factors.
Multiple sclerosis, the disease. 

This tableau shows a section of brain, revealing the changes that occur during MS. There is an area of normal tissue, an area of inflammation and demyelination, and finally the scar that is left once all the myelin is removed.

Vitamin D and Multiple sclerosis. 
Vitamin D is very complicated, so this tableau represents sources of vitamin D. We’ve got the sun, vitamin D supplements, and two food groups that contain vitamin D: eggs and fish.

Please visit the project website (www.immunology.org/msthebigknit) for details of these events. Contact: Hannah Hope - project co-ordinator.  H.Hope@immunology.org
Alison Thomson – Tableaux designer. alison.thomson@network.rca.ac.uk http://www.somehowrelated.co.uk

No comments:

Post a Comment