Outbreak features a stunning collection of ceramic sculptures by local artist Helen Birnbaum.
Based upon viral forms as seen under a microscope, the sculptures were first influenced by Birnbaum’s shock in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Approaching the subject of viral infection in a powerful yet playful manner, several of Birnbaum’s sculptural works also centre on the theme of games, such as chess and billiards. Birnbaum’s work Outbreak, which the exhibition is titled after, is a giant chess board which allows its audience to identify viruses such as HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C, Avian Flu and Tuberculosis, and through game. Each chess piece is a ceramic sculptural form, representing one of these viruses. This artwork was exhibited at the Bath Fringe Arts Festival and Warrington Arts Festival in 2016.
In 2015, Birnbaum was selected as ceramic artist-in-residence at Liverpool Hope University. Before that, she graduated with an MA in Ceramic Art and Design from the University of Central Lancashire. Her thesis on public art is displayed in the National Gallery and the National Library of Australia. She has also contributed to setting up a community arts centre and gallery in Skelmersdale, and is an Advocate for FACT Liverpool.