If you like a little bit of culture you’ll love my cell art

Asta was inspired by cell images in her lab's darkroom
Asta was inspired by cell images in her lab's darkroom
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IT’S not the most obvious source of inspiration for an artist – unless you also happen to be a cancer research scientist.

A series of paintings by Dr Asta Valanciute, inspired by images of cancer cells, are to go on sale at a charity auction.

Dr Valanciute, 40, who is working to improve treatments for bowel cancer at the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, was inspired to create the colourful acrylic paintings by images developed in the darkroom of her lab.

The paintings are also influenced by the experiences of Asta’s aunt and grandmother, who were both diagnosed with cancer.

Asta, who is originally from Lithuania, said: “I love that these paintings are a combination of science imaging techniques and art in that I have created something new from images of cancer cells from the laboratory.

“I wanted to show science in a different light so that people who have never been in a laboratory might be inspired to think about what goes on here.

“I also wanted to create something that featured dark and light to represent the range of emotions that people go through when they are diagnosed with cancer.”

Part of Asta’s groundbreaking work involves studying bowel cancer cells to find out how they react to particular drugs.

Asta runs ‘blot tests’ as part of her work in the lab to find out what is happening inside bowel cancer cells. Sometimes during these experiments, striking and unusual shapes are created instead of the linear patterns she usually sees – images Asta uses to inspire her unique abstract works of art.

It’s all for a good cause – Asta now hopes two paintings she is submitting will help organisers in their bid to raise thousands of pounds at the annual Cancer Research UK charity art show in Edinburgh.

It is the 43rd year of the art exhibition, jewellery and craft sale, which has over the years raised £500,000 through sales of pictures.

Asta, who volunteers in the Cancer Research UK shop in South Nicolson Street, said: “I was motivated to become a cancer scientist because so many members of my family in Lithuania have been affected by cancer. The darkness featured reflects the stress of receiving the news of a cancer diagnosis and feeling isolated from the rest of the world.”

Cancer Research UK spokeswoman Linda Summerhayes said: “We’re really grateful to Dr Valanciute for submitting these colourful paintings.”

The auction will take place at Adam House, Chambers Street, between 10.30am and 6pm from November 15 to November 18 and on November 19 from 10.30am to 4pm.