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In vitro culture from football culture

October 12, 2011

Artist John O’Shea has been forging ahead with his Wellcome funded apig bladder football project which has a fantastic broad canvas encompassing football terrace fanaticism through to an exploration of the processes of making his own ‘bladder’ football  in vitro via cell tissue culture and extracellular matrices! Yey hey! You may ask what the…?? As a scientist interested in the collision between art and science processes I think this project takes some beating.
I won’t give you all the background to this project which is explained by John on his own site . Currently John has just finished the first phase of the project in which he explored the origins of football and the parallels between the production of the current synthetic plastic football and the  loss of ‘ownership’ of the football fan of the modern game of football.  This part of the project culminated in a series of workshops where people could have a go at making their own footballs from pigs bladders through to a debate hosted by Andy Miah on football fanaticism through to the opening of a pig bladder football boutique in the bohemian Bold St in Liverpool as part of the aptly named Abandon Normal Devices Festival.

I popped into the shop and as you can see there was a range of pig balls on display alongside some rather slick designed tops; the whole shop put me in mind of a sort of upmarket ladies underwear boutique (I have a good imagination). Anyway I think John is now starting to learn some tissue culture as a prelude to growing an in vitro-virtual human bladder.  This will involve him working in a ‘state of the art’  science lab in liverpool university using 1000’s of pounds worth of tissue culture media. This project should also feed back into the science research of collaboration of Professor John Hunt’s group  at University of Liverpool’s Clinical Engineering Research Unit by exploring the manipulation of human cells into frameworks appropriate for bladder tissue engineering strategies for bladder cancer patients.

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