Gina Czarnecki creates crystal palaces from children’s teeth

Palaces - Gina Czarnecki (courtesy of Bluecoat)

Palaces is a new artwork by Gina Czarnecki built from crystal resin and milk teeth. Actual little teeth that children and their parents have donated to the project. A few people have been a little grossed out when I’ve told them about the sculpture but I think it sounds fascinating and can’t wait to see it.

Gina created Palaces in collaboration with Prof. Sara Rankin – a stem cell biologist at Imperial College – as part of the ongoing Wasted project which explores “the life-giving potential of ‘discarded’ body parts and their relationship to myths, history, cutting edge stem cell research and notions of what constitutes informed consent”. The stem cell aspect comes into this project because apparently under some circumstances you can extract stem cells from the pulp inside milk teeth which obviously has implications for medical science.

The design of the palace itself  has influences from Cologne cathedral to the glistening stalagmites you find in caves – you can see a fuller account of the project’s evolution online. To me it has the same eerie beauty I would expect of tooth fairy architecture – something in between faith, primal body magic and loveliness.

Once the palace was ready, Gina began adding the teeth one at a time. They are being glued onto the surfaces of the palace and will continue to expand their coverage throughout the life of the piece. Gina likens the growth of toothed areas to the growth of coral on a reef and I think that’s a pretty good analogy. The teeth will then be covered in more crystal resin, protecting the sculpture from the touch of visitors.

Palaces (detail) - Gina Czarnecki

Palaces is currently in Liverpool as part of the Bluecoat gallery’s retrospective of Gina’s work but will tour London in 2012 (Science Museum, Imperial College and the Centre of the Cell) before heading to the Herbert Art Museum and Gallery in Coventry in 2013. If you’re interested in becoming part of the project – literally – you can donate your old milk teeth or those of your children by following the instructions on the Palaces website.

>> Art Feast interviews Gina Czarnecki