Sally creates bold, vibrant and energetic prints exploring science and biology. All of her fabrics are screen printed by hand using water based inks at her studio at Islington Mill in Salford and her textile products are handmade to the finest quality at Spectator Mill in Manchester.
Since 2014, she has been collaborating with scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research in Manchester to create work in response to their research. Using microscopic bio images of different cells and tissues, she creates one of a kind, printed surface pattern designs. In addition to exhibiting in the UK, Europe and Norway, she also delivers a programme of public engagement events which take place at various public venues across Manchester including The Whitworth and Manchester Museum and as part of events such as Manchester Science Festival, The Body Experience and European Researchers at Night.
The Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research is studying how cells respond to chemical and physical signals to build and repair tissues and how changes to matrix lead to diseases of ageing including cancer and age-related macular degeneration.
In all multicellular organisms it is essential that cells only grow and function in the correct context within a tissue or organ. Signals from the extracellular matrix (ECM) provide these positional cues. Appropriate ECM contact not only allows cells to grow and differentiate, but it also functions as a survivalfactor. Cells that do not receive the correct information from the ECM undergo apoptosis, a genetically controlled suicide programme by which damaged, displaced or unwanted cells are removed. Apoptosis is an extremely efficient process, deleting cells quickly and efficiently whilst avoiding harmful inflammatory responses. The importance of ECM-dependent cell survival is seen in the development of invasive carcinoma, one of the hallmarks of which is the ability of cancer cells to move to distant sites within the patient. We are trying to understand how signals regulate apoptosis, with along term goal of identifying how this is different in cancer cells.
Inflammation is part of our body’s natural defence against infection and is required to successfully heal wounds. However, if inflammation continues unchecked (andbecomes chronic) then damage to our tissues occurs – for example, as is seen in the joints of individuals with arthritis. It is our aim to better understand the molecular processes that occur during inflammatory diseases. This includes investigating the role of the innate immune system in age-related macular degeneration and how a protective mechanism, triggered by acute inflammation, may serve to prevent cartilage and bone breakdown.
To move over external surfaces, cells need to form adhesions with the extracellularmatrix (ECM) and to control these adhesions in a coordinated manner. Cell adhesion occurs in specialized sites where receptors link the extracellular environment to the cell’ internal ‘skeleton’. These interactions do not all take place at the same time and that they are tightly regulated. Our aim is to study these interactions in live cells to get a better understanding of how cells ‘read’ signals (both chemical and physical) from their environment and how they move across surfaces.
The tissues of our bodies are extremely complicated at the cellular level, comprising different types of cells arranged with precise geometry. Within this complex system, the direction in which a cell divides is a crucial tool used to shape tissues and determine cell fate. Defects in division orientation have lethal consequences: they cause failures in embryonic development and are associated with cancer.
© 2018 Sally Gilford