LAB: Tissue Culture & Art

AV Festival & SymbioticA. University of Teeside, UK. 2006.

An intensive tissue engineering workshop, led by Oron Catts & Dr. Stuart Hodgetts (Symbiotica Lab, The University of Western Australia) on the basic principals of animal tissue culture and engineering.

During the lab we utilised immortal HeLa (1) cells, Foetal calf serum, cow femur bone cells and anti-biotic media to grow tissue culture. Through seeding and passaging (2) the cells in were able to replicate, grow whilst promoting division. The cells were then introduced to a scaffolded mould from made from degradable polymer to the shape and grow three dimensional living tissues.

During the lab we also discussed the history of tissue engineering and its’ link to early European research into eugenics, artists tissue culture projects critiquing the bio-medical sciences utilising life as capital and the critical and ethical issues on using living, animal or human cells.


– Media elements
– Making media with an antibiotic solution
– Phase contrast microscope showing spherical cells

– Working inside the hood mashing marrow
– Cells / tissue solution divided into flasks
– Dr. Stuart Hodgetts demonstrating

– Cow femur bone sawed to access marrow which contains around 100 different cell types.
– Scraped, sterilised and mashed marrow in test tubes
– Separated tissue solution with congealed fat (lupin) and red blood cells

– Working with sterilised marrow
– Degradeable polymers
– DIY hood

1. HeLa cell line is the Immortal cell line of Henrietta Lacks, 1951. They were involuntarily taken from her cancerous tumor. 
2. Passaging- the process of dividing cells into different flasks.
AV Festival 06-