The Art of Science: A Handful of Dust

Lucie Libotte, Dust Matters, Ceramic, 2014
Lucie Libotte, Dust Matters, Ceramic, 2014

Science is increasingly focusing on whole environments – ranging from our guts to the ocean – exploring how all the parts of a system work together to function in a healthy way. Lucie Libotte’s 2014 work, Dust Matters, now on exhibit at the Science Gallery in Dublin, creates art from one of the inescapable elements of our domestic environment – dust.

In a kind of “citizen sciart” project, Libotte had a group of friends in various areas of the UK collect dust from their homes. She then fired the dust as a coating on ceramic vessels, which look strikingly varied. Says the artist, “Dust Matters’ aim is to re-evaluate this ‘dirt’, and convey the value of dust as an indicator of our environment, showing how it reflects our daily life and traces our journey through the world.”

Libotte’s work is part of an exhibition at the Science Gallery called HOME\SICK: POST-DOMESTIC BLISS, which “looks at the meanings of home, from rubbish to robots and microbes to micro-dwellings, asking whether the changing nature of home is for better or worse.”

HOME\SICK, which runs through July 17, features the work of many other artists, scientists and designers, including the microbial bellybutton stylings of Finch & Pea friends Rob Dunn and Holly Menninger of North Carolina State University.

You can get lots more information about the show at the Science Gallery website.

Science Caturday: Love Thy (Microbial) Neighbors


Over the last several years, scientists have made huge strides in understanding the microbiome – that is, the community of microorganisms populating our air, water and soil, as well as our bodies. In a blogpost this week, UC Davis biologist Jonathan Eisen draws attention to two new studies of the microbiome of the built environment – one on the microbial profile of a hospital NICU and one on the relationship between architectural design and the biogeography of buildings.


Eisen points out that a thorough understanding of microbial environments is crucial to changing the widespread fear of microbes, most of which are not only not harmful, but possibly crucial to maintaining healthy living spaces. He points out, “Just as we would not argue for killing all mammals simply because one might be annoying us, we need to stop trying to kill all germs just because some do us harm.”


Since it’s Caturday, we should point out that, besides being a very smart guy, Jonathan Eisen is a friend of kitties (evidence). He has served as a senior advisor on the not-terribly-serious Kitten Microbiome Project  and also compiled a handy list of more rigorous scholarship on kitty gut bug microbiology on Mendeley. And he provided us with a great excuse to re-use these lolcats.

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