In my previous post, I mentioned the lab work that Dr Adam Hamlin was doing on the day I visited him at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. The pictures here are some I took on that day. Dr Hamlin was preparing microscope slides of mouse brain slices, from four mice that had been exposed to rye grass toxins (this isn't part of his Alzheimer's research, it's a new experiment). He showed me the brains stained to mark active neurons, showing stress caused by the reaction to the toxin. Before the slides were treated, there was a lot of "noise" visible under the microscope: squiggly lines of cell walls and other fatty deposits.
The cleaning process involved dipping the slides into a series of baths of ethanol, working up to 100% pure ethanol. The second task was dipping the slides in xylene, a strong solvent that dissolved all the fat and left only the stained neuronsbehind.
This part of the process was fascinating to watch; as the slides went into the liquid, you could actually see the fat dissolving and swirling around. I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with the f-stops and focus on my camera to get a good shot of this (fortunately Adam was doing the slides in batches, so I could have a couple of runs of trial and error). I was quite pleased to finally capture the swirling liquid (see the final two images in the series at right).
After I came home, I processed the best image using Photoshop to exaggerate the colours and lines as the basis for a new embroidery work. You can see the image below, and I'll be working on it at Accelerator Gallery during the exhibition that's part of Art and About over the next few weeks.