‘Tooth fairy palace’
In the chilly studio of Liverpool-based artist Gina Czarnecki, a fantasy palace has taken shape. It is a riot of towers and tendrils, resembling something out of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. It has been christened the Tooth Fairy Palace, but like many fairy tales, all is not as it seems as it has been designed to raise awareness about stem cell research and its implications.
The palace will gradually become encrusted with real teeth – the teeth of children. These teeth can be a source of stem cells, the focus of pioneering and sometimes controversial research.
“…this palace evolved from conversations about stem cells, but also about truth and illusion, and about consent to giving a piece of you to build a big public artwork that you’re part of and you helped build.”
And one thing the work does, says Prof Rankin, is to change the way we think about body parts we might otherwise dismiss as unimportant.
“These include things like fat from liposuction, umbilical chords, or indeed baby teeth. All these body parts, currently classified as clinical waste, are actually potential sources of adult stem cells that could be very valuable in our future health care.”