6:30 pm on April 26, 2021
Through playful encounters with food we have been exploring the science behind what happens in our DNA at a cellular level as we age.
Everything on these pages has been created by people who took part in #flowcellular, a collaborative project between Wellcome Connecting Science, the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutations Programme, The Saturday Museum and public participants. Here we share some of our favourite experimental recipes, some extracts from our conversations, and other visual creations we have made over the duration of the project. We hope you enjoy discovering more about the science of ageing and feel inspired to try some of the recipes out yourselves.
Alex and Melody
Alex – Animal genetics, laser capture microdissection, somatic evolution, paternal age mutations, art and illustration. Melody – Abstract photography, the story of radiation, kintsugi and baking.
Sarah and Lynne
Sarah – Cancer: identifying novel preventable causes of cancer, mutational signatures (the ‘fingerprints’ of exposures such as smoking and UV light on the genome), reading and cats. Lynne – Marmalade making, travelling and meeting people, photographing everything including lichen, painting, reading crime, dogs and people watching.
Tim and Mike
Mike – Cryptic crosswords, language and languages, travel, making abstract art and Google threads. Tim – Breast cancer, genomics, circulating tumour DNA, gaming, treasure hunts and slow cooking.
Jannat, Ken and Mattie
Jannat – Structural variants in genes, 3D genome, what happens to DNA when it experiences a significant trauma and baking. Mattie – Curating, art-science collaborations and creative writing. Ken – Science communication, discovering science and arts in daily life as an economic naturalist, photography, curating and cooking.
Ellie, Aless, Ana, Charli
Ellie – Investigating patterns of somatic mutation caused by chemotherapy drugs, cooking and dancing. Aless – Medicine, Twitch broadcasting and science communication. Ana – Communications in arts and science, dancing, taking film, photos and experimenting with 3D. Charli – Biochemistry, yoga and science communication.
The Saturday Museum
In the spirit of #flowcellular we thought we would share with you a little bit about how TSM approached this project in the form of a recipe.
Join us for our virtual exhibition launch
Art, Science and Lockdown Baking
Join our hosts Russell Tovey and Robert Diament in conversation with participants in the #flowcellular project and invited guests to discuss the intersections of art, science and how lockdown shaped the spaces they worked in, the materials they chose and the conversations that emerged.
Join our host, science writer and broadcaster, Geoff Marsh in conversation with a panel of researchers and zoologists. From naked mole rats to sperm whales what can animals teach us about the secrets to longer life?
It’s in the Genes?
Join our host Dr Kat Arney in conversation with an invited panel of guests from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the wider world of genomics. 25 years on from the discovery of BRCA2 how has genomics shaped our understanding of cancer? To what extent can we predict the diseases that may affect us by looking at our genes and what other biological, lifestyle and environmental factors contribute to how and why we age?
This art and science collaboration began in February 2020 and was due to be exhibited in the Genome Gallery later that year. However, as a result of the global pandemic we had to temporarily close our doors to the public and seek alternative virtual platforms for connecting. Unable to meet in person, or inhabit our labs or studios spaces, we decided to make the kitchen our shared space. Artists from The Saturday Museum brought together scientists and public participants, some of whom have lived experience of cancer, to explore how our DNA changes over our lifetimes from scientific and personal perspectives. Participants got together over a period of a year via Zoom in their kitchens to explore culinary metaphors for scientific concepts, share family recipes and connect during this time of social distancing.
Our conversations sought to understand more about cancer, ageing and how our DNA changes over time, due to a variety of biological, lifestyle and environmental factors, and how these affect our health as we get older. This collaboration provided a space for us to explore the themes of the research in dialogue with people’s lived experiences, and to share that learning with others.
Our approach was playful, tactile, creative, messy and empathic. We have chopped, sliced, mixed, iced, stirred, boiled and kneaded. We have made everything from multi-coloured flat bread to animals from fruit. Everyone has generously shared their individual perspectives, knowledge, humour, and creative ideas. Together we have found a common language through food that has enabled us to connect with each other and the subject matter.
We have been able to share stories about our lives and loved ones and make a space for creative exploration in research in this time of social isolation. For some of us, we are now viewing and contributing to science in ways we never thought possible, and for others we are now thinking differently about how we involve people more in our science and have new questions we want to investigate as a result of these conversations.
In this online gallery we bring together our stories, discoveries, reflections and some of the many questions generated over the duration of the project to share with you. We invite you to try our recipes and contribute your perspectives on what cancer, ageing and DNA mean to you.
The Saturday Museum is a collaborative project run by artists Lucy Steggals, who is based in London, and George Moustakas, who is based in Athens. It is an itinerant, mobile museum exploring alternative models of co-creation and gentle ways to play with existing systems and infrastructures. TSM is interested in connecting people locally, nationally and internationally. The way it works is by intuitively starting a FLOW on a theme. FLOWs are flexible frames; soft structures; play spaces; allowing for something haptic and collaborative to evolve. FLOWs are triangular – a combination of lived experience, digital dialogues and physical outputs. www.thesaturdaymuseum.org
The researchers in this project come to us from the Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutations Programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. They are part of a pioneering team that explores cutting-edge genomic science to better understand the role DNA mutation plays in cell evolution, ageing and development. www.sanger.ac.uk
The public participants in this project come to us from our project collaborators at Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cancer Patient Partnership Group, Circuit Group Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard, and Young Leaders from Science Gallery London.
We would like to thank the following people and organisations, without whom #flowcellular would not have been possible.
Lucy Steggals and George Moustakas from The Saturday Museum.
Alex Cagan, Aless Gibson, Ana Alvarez Prendes, Charli Hilton, Ellie Dunstone, Gaby Da Silva, Izzy Collie-Cousins, Jannat Ijaz, Ken Deng, Lynne Cundy Jones, Mattie O’Callaghan, Melody Bottle, Mike Jump, Sarah Moody, and Tim Butler.
Wellcome Sanger Institute (Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutations Programme), Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cancer Patient Partnership Group (Lenja Bell), Wysing Arts Centre (Lucy Ship), Science Gallery London (Jamie Dorey), Cancer Research UK (Ellie Wheeler), ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo (Nick Masters, Edmund Flach, Simon Spiro, Ethan Wrigglesworth and Inez Januszczak), Wellcome Connecting Science (Beth Elliott, Laura Olivares Boldú and Kenneth Skeldon), and Rafa Montero Yuste.
Ruth Mellville Research Ltd. (Jael Williams, Ruth Mellville, and Catherine Doran).
#flowcellular and the Genome Gallery are initiatives of Wellcome Connecting Science, which is funded by Wellcome.
And last but not least thanks to the members of the public who have engaged with the project with your own break and repair creative responses and stories.