Microbe Mouth

Anna Dumitriu

27 Jan
2020
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Anna Dumitriu worked with scientists Melissa Grant and Rachel Sammons at the University of Birmingham to create “Microbe Mouth” (2016) made from unique teeth grown using bacteria. The team literally grew teeth, or at least the hydroxyapatite that tooth enamel is made from, in the lab using an extremophile bacterium which is part of the species called Serratia (Serratia N14).

“Microbe Mouth”

These bacteria were originally found in highly polluted sites near mines and can even survive in radioactive environments due to the mineral they produce which acts as a kind of shield for them.

They are also being looked at for uses in so-called bio-remediation projects, where bacteria can be used to remove harmful substances from the environment. They are not harmful to humans, but are we ready for teeth made from microbes?

Science Gallery London workshop

The team ran a series of workshops where participants glazed their own ceramic teeth in unique ways, using glazes derived from various bacterial species which live in our mouths and cause tooth decay and gum disease. 

Bacteria used included Porphyromonas gingivalis that can introduce an iron containing light brown stain to the glaze. In these workshops, visitors also had a chance to delve into bacterial world of the mouth, learning more about healthy and unhealthy mouths. 

“Microbe Mouth” work in progress

Past Exhibitions of Microbe Mouth

Microbe Mouth” was a commission for the “Mouthy” season produced by the Science Gallery London and was exhibited in November 2016 at Kings College London.

“Microbe Stories” (solo exhibition) Blyth Gallery at Imperial College London from 22nd March – 7th May 2017.

Children of Prometheus” at Furtherfield in London from 1st July until Sunday 20th August 2017. The video below describes the themes around the exhibition “Children of Prometheus” curated by Marc Garrett in response to the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

About the “Children of Prometheus” exhibition at Furtherfield

BDH Openwide in Birmingham from 14th June until 6th September 2017.

BioArt and Bacteria” (solo exhibition) at Oxford Museum of the History of Science from 28th September 2017 until 18th March 2018.

BioArt and Bacteria” (solo exhibition) at The Esther Klein Gallery and the Science Center in Philadelphia (USA) from 18th October until the 24th November 2018.

 “BioArt and Bacteria” (solo exhibition) at Eden Project in Cornwall (UK) from 30th March – 1st June 2019.

All in This Together” (curated group exhibition) which took place online at the DISTANCE GALLERY during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, 15th May – 15th June 2020.