British artist Luke Jerram explained the process of creating a sculpture of Covid-19 upon receiving a request of Duke University School of Engineering weeks before coronavirus had become a pandemic. Jerram was speaking in Bristol on Wednesday.
“So, about eight weeks ago I was approached by a university over in America to create a glass sculpture of COVID-19 to sort of represent their research they’re doing as a university. And back then we didn’t realise what impact this virus was going to have globally. So the artwork seems to have more resonance now than perhaps it did back then,” he said.
“The sculptures are created through a combination of looking at diagrams of viruses and electron microscope images as well. And they’re combined to form the sculptures that we see here. The artworks are made through a process of lampwork. So this is glass, and glass-blowing processes. The same processes are used to make distilleries and test tubes. It’s sort of a scientific glassware,” he added.
Jerram went on to explain that the sculpture is two million times larger than the actual virus.
“when you look through an electron microscope, the images seem really grainy and you’re looking at images and models who are really brightly coloured whereas actually viruses are colourless. They’re smaller than the wavelength of light itself,” he said.
Jerram dedicated the work to all of the medical workers in the world who are burdened with dealing with the outbreak first hand, and explained that “all the proceeds and the money from this commission are going to the Medecines Sans Frontiers, a well-known charity who will be dealing with the impact of the pandemic in less well-developed countries.”