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Katie Paterson


Katie Paterson is a Scottish artist, based in Berlin. Her conceptual projects make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment.

While in residence, Katie immersed herself in genomics research. She became particularly interested in ideas of genomic archaeology, human variation and human evolutionary history. The fossil record, combined with DNA analysis of current species, enables us to build a picture of our planet's biological history.

The outcome of her residency, "Fossil Necklace", charts the development of life on Earth. Each of its 170 beads, carved from individual fossils, represents a major event in the evolution of life. The first beads are billions of years old and relate to the beginnings of single-celled organisms. The final beads trace the emergence and routes of human beings and their ancestors across the globe. It is a powerfully tangible reminder of our deep-rooted connections with each other and other species.

Katie won the Visual Arts prize at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2014 (in part for Fossil Necklace) for her show at Kettle' s Yard and as part of Tipping Point, Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Research centre: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK