An exhibition “not for the squeamish” at Science Gallery London explores the fascinating world of blood: its history, the science and our relationship to it.

Blood is essential to keep us alive. Our own language shows us that it has long been associated with our identity (“it’s in my blood”), relationships (“blood is thicker than water,” or “bad blood”), and feelings (“it makes my blood boil,” or “they did it in cold blood”).

The Science Gallery London has decided to honor our relationship with this liquid that keeps us alive with an exhibition that explores the history, the science, the ethics and our perception on such a seemingly simple but fascinating substance. Let’s have a look at some of the artwork you can find there.


A compass needle made of human placenta. This unsettling piece was made by collecting iron from 69 placentas, bringing a seemingly inert object to life. Although many might consider iron just another dull material, it is actually essential for us to live. Among many other functions, the iron within hemoglobin proteins in our blood lets us take oxygen from the air and distribute it throughout our whole body.

The intention of artist Cecilia Jonsson is to symbolize how our choices, the directions we take, influence our lives both individually and as a species. Medical waste is turned into “bio-ore” through metallurgical reduction fire, obtaining a guiding tool.  The iron needle floats within a rotating glass bowl with representations of its origins: the labyrinth of vessels that nourish the placenta.

The Body is a Big Place

A man-made circulatory system that pumps real blood — from pigs rather than humans, though. The installation, by Australian duo Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor explores the blurred threshold between life and death. Its name refers to how human blood and organs can travel great distances for transfusions and transplantations.


What is life? This installation by Japanese artist Mari Ohno moves, makes sounds and will evolve during the exhibition. These are characteristics of living beings, but does this make the machine be alive?

Moment raises questions about how to define live in a moment when the definition of artificial and alive is blurred, and science is struggling with deciding the ethics around the use of animals and robots.

Acid Yellow 7

The title of this installation by artist Bea Haines makes reference to a substance used in forensics to investigate crime scenes. Acid yellow 7 dyes blood and makes it glow yellow when viewed using professional goggles under a certain light.

The installation invites visitors to don the goggles and torch themselves and explore a room full of art that is invisible to the naked eye. Are you brave enough?

These and many other installations and talks around the history, science, feelings and ethics surrounding the red, thick liquid that keeps us alive will be on show at Blood: Life Uncut in London until November 1st.

Images via Science Gallery London

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