In 1953 Watson and Crick suggested the now iconic double helix model of DNA (thanks also to data from Franklin, Chargaff and Wilkins). This discovery led to our understanding of genetics and the birth of molecular biology. This also had a great influence on my late teens and early twenties as it was the inspiration for pursuing Biochemistry at Oxford and spending part of my fourth year there studying DNA dynamics. So it was with pride and joy that I was able to unveil my sculpture DNA – Helix of Life on the 60th anniversary of its discovery, and not only that but was visited by Nobel Laureate James Watson, who quizzed me on the data used for my model!
DNA - Helix of Life
Standing at two metres tall, it is constructed from 634 human figures joined at the hands and feet each representing a different atom in the DNA. First made in wax then cast in bronze, the work “demonstrates ambitious talent paired with a rather humbled view of society”; that we must support each other as individuals to operate as a whole. The integrity of the structure depends on each figure playing its part and is a powerful representation of the interconnectedness of life.
The sculptures is a single twist of b-DNA. The 10 base pairs in the sculpture are the first 3 and a bit codons of the gene for Haemoglobin, which was the first gene to be deciphered.
Edition of 3
185 cm high
The following video shows more information about the making of this work.
Many thanks to Peter Clarke of Tangen Films http://www.tangentfilms.com/
Kit for Making DNA
The 8 mini sculptures in this framed work are the building blocks of the full DNA sculpture. It includes 4 single atoms: carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen and 4 sets of double bonded atoms, including phosphorous-oxygen.
Edition of 8
47.5 x 47.5 x 7.5 cm (framed size)
This represents a Cytosine – Guanine base pair which along with Adenine – Thymine pairs makes up the genetic code. If DNA is viewed as a twisted ladder, the base pairs are the rungs of the ladder. In DNA- Helix of Life the base pairs are picked out in different colours. In this sculpture, each individual atom is coloured according to the chemical standard: Carbon is black, Nitrogen is blue, Oxygen is red and Hydrogen white.
Edition of 8
32 cm high