Heirloom - Exhibition
Heirloom - ethics debate
Heirloom - workshops
Heirloom - About the project
Heirloom - team and funding

Meet the future of your face… 

Exhibition at Medical Museion, May 26th – August 28th, 2016.

In Heirloom, Gina Czarnecki grows skin portraits of her daughters from their own cells onto glass casts. The growing portraits are bathed in a liquid that feeds them and prevents infection. When the cells reach the thickness of tissue paper they are removed, preserved, and displayed as framed portraits.

Heirloom subverts the notion of the portrait, representing a person not in paint or oils, but with their own biological material. As the cells grow, are removed, and grow again, does the link between portrait and sitter lie in the physical resemblance or the cellular material?

The starting point of Heirloom was the idea of having your teenage face back in the future. The artwork was realized in collaboration with professor of clinical sciences John Hunt, who specializes in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. The methods developed could offer new possibilities for facial reconstruction and cosmetic modification. Along with Director of Face Lab, professor Caroline Wilkinson, Gina Czarnecki and John Hunt have also become interested in how these methods could be applied on a wider scale – if biobanks stored information about the 3D structure of the face along with youthful skin cells, could everyone have their own facial heirloom? A collaboration across the borders of art and science dares society to think differently about the future.

The exhibition at Medical Museion shows an artwork; an installation of living and preserved portraits. Alongside the skin portraits, visitors will encounter laboratory equipment, face moulds, casts, and 3D scans that reveal the process of the artwork: a process that could also develop into future medical procedures. The exhibition is also a snapshot of an ongoing collaboration between artist and scientist – the technical methods behind Heirloom will continue to evolve as the project is exhibited in Korea, Liverpool, and Amsterdam.

The exhibition runs from May 26th – August 28th 2016.


Ethics debate 25 May Free sign-up
Cellcraft workshop I 27 May Tickets
Cellcraft workshop II 29 May Tickets

All photographs copyright Gina Czarnecki and/or Medical Museion. Please contact us for permissions.