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Wasted Debates

 Wednesday 8 February, 6pm -7.30pm, at the Bluecoat.

Chaired by Roger Phillips of BBC Radio Merseyside

Should people be allowed to donate parts of their body to an artist?

Is it right for galleries to exhibit artwork made of real human bones, teeth or fat? Who owns our body parts when they are removed from us?

Does the use of human tissue in art serve any purpose, or is this just sensationalism? Should this type of art require formal approval?

The Bluecoat is inviting people to discuss these fascinating questions at a ‘Question Time’ style event with a panel including:

  •       Dominic Hughes, BBC Health Correspondent
  •       Canon Jules Gomes, Artistic Director of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
  •      Andy Miah, academic and specialist in cultural ethics, and
  •      Rt Hon Jane Kennedy, former MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Minister of State for Health.

At present, there are strict ethical rules relating to the use of human tissue from living people. Doctors and medical researchers must follow codes of conduct and get ethics approval (from the Human Tissue Authority) and consent from individuals to obtain tissue from living donors, for example to use tumour biopsy samples for scientific research. However, there is no ethical committee that has the authority to decide whether anyone else, an artist or museum curator for example, can obtain tissue from living consenting donors, for the purpose of making art and displaying it.

The Wasted debate seeks to open up a discussion about the ethics of ‘bio-art’ with a wider audience.


Gina Czarnecki has sought to make sculptures using human fat from liposuction operations, and bones from hip replacements. Even though legally, all she needs is the consent of an informed patient, doctors are reluctant to release the ‘waste products’ from operations because there is no way of getting formal approval.

Gina’s exhibition at the Bluecoat documents this process. Significantly the exhibition introduces her latest works. Wasted is a series of sculptures that explore the use of human tissue in art, the life-giving potential of ‘discarded’ body parts and their relationship to myths and history. The works draw attention to timely concerns such as stem cell research and issues surrounding the process of informed consent. Co-commissioned by the Bluecoat and Imperial College London, Palaces is a resin sculpture and participatory artwork made from thousands of milk teeth donated by children around the UK.  Palaces will tour to the Science Museum, Imperial College and the Centre of the Cell, London in 2012, and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry in 2013.

Free tickets are available from the Bluecoat information desk. Call 0151 702 5324 for details.

Anyone can join in the debate by visiting or tweet us @wasteddebates.

For further information or interview requests, please contact the event organizer

Kate Rodenhurst

07956 352 779


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About the Bluecoat

Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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