Cart 0


A new installation created by sisters Helen (designer and social artist) and Kate (developmental biologist) Storey, in collaboration with Holition

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 15.58.34.png

A dress, snagged upon a decaying branch is brought together with a responsive film of neuron birth and differentiation.

20 years after their ground-breaking collaboration, Primitive Streak, Neurogenesis is made in creative partnership with the innovative digital agency Holition. 



In 1997 Helen and Kate created one of the first ever art science collaborations under the Wellcome Trust’s banner, Sci Art. Since then Primitive Streak (a fashion and textile collection that elucidates the first 1000 hours of human life) has been seen by 3 million people, in over 50 venues in 7 countries and still engenders wonder and public acclaim. Two pieces from the collection are on permanent display in the Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection, London and in the Fashion gallery at National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.

The work is supported by LifeSpace and Wellcome and will launch on March 23rd 2018 in Dundee at Centrespace 

Neurogenesis is part of the VRC at 20 programme at Centrespace celebrating the history of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design's Visual Research Centre in Dundee Contemporary Arts.
DCA, 152 Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4DY


Live imaging of neurogenesis by Dr Raman Das in Kate Storey's laboratory, processed (slowed and framed blended) using Twixtor in collaboration with Holition.



 New nerve cells are generated in adult brains as well as in the developing embryo. In humans, much evidence suggests that this takes place in the hippocampus, where new neurons are proposed to sustain learning and memory. Most recently we have been exploring this link to human experience, working on ways to combine movies of neurons being born within an installation that further connects this process to how the nervous system changes with experience and age .

More about the science of neurogenesis

rehearsal 2.jpg

Detail of the dress bodice -'Late life

Much has happened in the 20 years since we first created Primitive Streak, one of the first hybrid arts/science projects - both in terms of technology (the internet was barely with us) and what has happened in cross disciplinary practice since. Back then, our focus was to experiment with what might happen when these two separate disciplines combined to convey how the human embryo develops and takes form.

We never imagined that our personal life as sisters might ask for expression in a professional body of work – Neurogenesis has been created at a time when our Dad was entering dementia and the ending of his life – inclusion of our personal experience makes this work distinct from anything we have done before, as we have felt compelled to allow the pain of loss to surface within the work
— Kate and Helen Storey, February 2018

Early sketch by Helen Storey, 2016 

Wellcome is proud to have had a long and sustained relationship with the collaborative work of Helen and Kate Storey, beginning with the original creation and tour of the collection Primitive Streak in 1997. Their collaboration continues to be enormously fruitful, and its especially gratifying to see their latest work Neurogenesis come to fruition in collaboration LifeSpace in the School of Life Sciences with which Wellcome is also proud to be associated, and shown at Centrespace, Dundee Contemporary Arts. Along the way Wellcome Collection in London has also shown Kate and Helen’s associated work Lung Dress, while Red Fur Neurulation Dress continues to be a central feature of our Reading Room
— James Peto, Head of Public Programmes - Wellcome

The dress is designed with found materials that nature has acted upon over time.



The Collaboration 

To facilitate interaction within the work Helen and Kate have partnered with leading innovation studio, Holition.

Helen’s poignant dress, snagged across a decaying branch, is designed with materials nature has acted upon over time; serving as a central metaphor for changing and aging biological structures. From within this emerges dynamic images of cells dividing and then differentiating into new nerve cells which extend long projections to seek out their targets and create the scaffold of the developing nervous system.

Within this surrounding of generation and degeneration, the near 360° installation uses motion tracking sensors to activate this intimate experience. Viewers are directed to follow cells as they progress through Neurogenesis, movement of the viewer triggering sequential steps in this extraordinary generative process. 

This responsiveness helps to reveal the developmental process to the participant. The work challenges us to think about how the nervous system forms and changes during life and how this relates to our lived experience of neural functions and their degeneration.


Kate Storey

Kate is Professor of Neural Development and Head of the Division of Cell and Developmental Biology at University of Dundee. 
more info ⟶

This new work was inspired by the central theme of Kate’s research into neurogenesis or the making of neurons. Kate investigates the cellular and molecular basis of this fundamental process. Live imaging of cell behaviour within the developing nervous system is a key approach used by her group.

We have been experimenting with ways in which to convey the process of neurogenesis to a wide audience, using movies made during our research. These are created most easily in the accessible chicken embryo in which we can label a small number of cells and monitor how they multiply and change shape as they become neurons. This happens inside the neural tube where new born neurons detach from neighbouring cells so that they can migrate to appropriate positions and make new connections that form the basis of the functioning nervous system.
— Kate Storey

Since Kate and Helen’s initial work “Primitive Streak”, Kate has developed and mentored numerous science-art inter-disciplinary projects. She uses this approach to explore new ways of sharing scientific understanding and new discoveries with the general public. Kate is a member of the steering group for the innovative LifeSpace Science Art research gallery.

Visit LifeSpace ⟶

Helen Storey

Helen is Professor of Fashion and Science at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, University of the Arts London, London College of Fashion and founder and Co-Director of The Helen Storey Foundation.
more info ⟶

Her work since 1997 ( following her years as a fashion designer)  has  experimented with the surface and structure of materials to either elucidate an aspect of science in an imaginative and memorable way, or to co create solutions, which address key challenges to our environment and ways in which we live.

This collaboration, incorporates the original science discovery with ‘dress’, emergent technology, film, and materials changed by environment and time. 

Since Primitive Streak, Helen has used ‘dress’ as an unexpected mechanism for introducing complex science and ideas and on this occasion, linking this to human experience as well.

This project, perhaps more than any other before it, has been a heightened dance between a way of working familiar to me, (the colliding of art and science to suggest, or discover something new) with a time of great personal change and loss. Creativity can be a way to process and make sense of life events and so this work serves both the personal and the professional, as I have tried to find a material way to express the inexpressible
— Helen Storey


Holition is a creative innovation studio: a synthesis of retail scientists, film-makers, artists, mathematicians, UX designers and other curious minds, united by digital empathy towards consumer experience.

Part think-tank part digital studio, Holition crafts bespoke experiences for industry leaders across the luxury, fashion, beauty, arts and academia sectors to provoke new dialogue through experience.

Neurogenesis is another example of Helen and Kate’s innate ability to communicate important scientific discovery in an artistic and empathetic manner, thereby helping us to further understand what it means to be human.
— Jonathan Chippindale, Holition CEO

Helen Storey Foundation will work with the sisters to produce and tour the work.
The work will be premiered as part of LifeSpace's programme in Centrespace, in the Visual Research Centre at Dundee Contemporary Arts,  

March 23rd to April 21st 2018

Open Monday - Saturday. 11am-5pm. 
Preview: Thursday 22 March 2018, 5-7pm


Film showing the work being installed and the Private View at Dundee, March 21st and 23rd 2018, shot and edited by Tommy Howard, Holition. 


Glossary of terms:


Neuron:  a nerve cell

Differentiation:  when a cell becomes more specialised to serve a function (here to form nerve cells)

Neurogenesis:  the process of generating new nerve cells

Degeneration (in the context of this work): slow disintegration of nerve cells

Hippocampus: a region of the brain that is concerned with learning and memory

Nervous system development: how the nervous system forms, including how nerve cells make connections with other cells

Neural function: activities that the nervous system carries out, this includes cognitive functions like making memories

Ventricular surface: this surface lines the central canal of the developing nervous system, which begins as a simple tube  

Primitive Streak - a transient and dynamic structure in the early embryo which mediates the establishment of the three layers of developing body, ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm.

Technical specifications: 


Kinect2 camera: 

Kinect is a motion and sound sensing input device produced by Microsoft.

It enables users to interact with computer-based applications through a natural user interface, by using its sensors to determine objects distance, recognise and track moving people with skeletal tracking and capture and locate sound sources providing means for voice commands recognition. 

Software programmed by Holition


C++ based software, with 3d space analysis and rendering, which uses depth data from a Kinect camera to determine when appointed areas are occupied by users, in order to accordingly trigger animations.