Calling all synthetic biologists, bio-artists, bio-designers, amateur biotechnologists and bio-hackers. Science Gallery is seeking proposals for projects for our upcoming flagship exhibition GROW YOUR OWN

“[This is] the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer…. This is a philosophical advance as much as a technical advance,” J. Craig Venter, announcing his ‘synthetic cell’ in 2010.

GROW YOUR OWN… is a curated, open call exhibition tackling provocative questions raised by synthetic biology, and is supported by a Society Award from the Wellcome Trust. Curated by Professor Paul Freemont (Imperial College), Professor Anthony Dunne (Royal College of Art), Cathal Garvey, Daisy Ginsberg, and Professor Michael John Gorman (Science Gallery), GROW YOUR OWN… offers audiences a participative experience to explore the possibilities and potential implications of synthetic biology, through an exhibition, events and workshops.

Popular accounts of synthetic biology often seem to suggest that its applications are restricted only by the limits of our imagination; GROW YOUR OWN… asks how realistic these dreams are. Many of the ethical, social and cultural questions that synthetic biology raises are long-recurring themes that research at the frontiers of science provokes, such as living versus non-living, human culture versus nature, design versus evolution. Exploring these, GROW YOUR OWN… will contain works that bring visitors into dialogue with the complex boundaries between life and non-life and the intentional design of living systems. The exhibition will tackle the utopian and dystopian extremes often projected by government, industry, the media and environmental campaigners – from the promise of solving the world’s energy and food problems, to the threat of world-ending bio-catastrophe – enabling audiences to make a nuanced and thoughtful assessment of the field.

Tackling the sweeping discussion of synthetic biology that tends to focus on a biotech future of personalised medicine and cells that pump out fuel, GROW YOUR OWN… will explore the ambiguous issues raised by ‘designing’ biology too.

We are interested in works that offer a participative and interactive visitor experience for a broad age range of visitors, especially those aged 15-25. We seek projects that inform, intrigue, provoke dialogue and engage audiences about an unfamiliar, complex and far-reaching topic, moving forward a public conversation about synthetic biology.

We are interested in receiving proposals on a wide variety of topics including:

  • Broad themes such as living versus non-living, human culture versus nature, design versus evolution, the intentional design of nature.
  • Research areas in synthetic biology such as health, energy, environment, bio-computing, materials and agriculture or new/unusual themes that have not entered the debate yet.
  • Current research and challenges within synthetic biology.
  • The hype spectrum that swings from potential world saving utopia to global bio catastrophe.
  • Different processes and approaches with synthetic biology research, such as understanding and modeling living things and their processes at a molecular level, modification of existing organisms such as bacteria, the building of synthetic organisms that can carry out specific actions, the construction of novel organisms from the bottom up.
  • The potential impact of synthetic biology on everyday life, how it might look and feel.
  • Social and ethical concerns of synthetic biology such as bioterror, biosecurity, the duel-use dilemma, questions around the creation of synthetic life, governance, intellectual property and ownership, bioerror and intentional environmental release.
  • DIY biology.
  • Participatory experiments and workshops.


  • Professor Paul Freemont, Director of Centre for Synthetic Biology, Imperial College, London
  • Professor Anthony Dunne, Design Interactions, Royal College of Art, London
  • Professor Michael John Gorman, Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
  • Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, designer and artist
  • Professor Luke O’ Neill, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute
  • Cathal Garvey, biohacker

The maximum amount of budgetary support available for each approved application is €5,000, though most acccepted projects will have significantly lower budgets. Each project must be delivered within this maximum production budget which should include all fees, materials, shipping and travel costs as well as any other cost that may arise from participation in GROW YOUR OWN….

Please note that the production budget available for event based proposals is significantly less and support will be given on a case by case basis.

The open call will close at 12 midnight on May 26th 2013.

back to top

We value your privacy

To make sure that this website remains accessible in the European Union, we are forced to include this superfluous notice to inform you that this website, like most of the websites in the world, works best with cookies. We do not profile you or use the data for any commercial purposes except to study ways to enhance user experience in ours sites. We hope that you are happy with that, and that you will help us continue this research by accepting our cookies but, unlike with other websites, surfing our site in privacy is still possible should you decide not to. You can find out more about our use of cookies by reading our privacy policy.