Heavenly Bodies

Bea Haines (UK)

Backlit Scanning Electron Micrographs of Human Gallstones

When my grandmother died, I inherited tiny gallstones removed from her body. Grotesque to the outsider, these nuggets of bodily imperfection became precious relics to me. Like the heavily adorned relics found in Catholic churches, my aim was to present the stones in a different light, replacing disgust with a sense of reverence. To visualize these minute forms, I chose to use science as an equivalent contemporary power to religion.

Heavenly Bodies / Bea Haines (UK), Credit: vog.photo

Heavenly Bodies was created by using a Scanning Electron Microscope to visualize the detailed topography of the stones’ surface, transmuting them into objects of celestial beauty. Body stones (or calculi) are formed by the build-up of mineral salts within the body. Like comets or pearls, they are accidental waste products of the body, or as nurses used to call them, “tombstones to dead bacteria”.


With the support of Imperial College London