In february 2013, I was an invited speaker for an EMBO Workshop-Conference in Heidelberg, Germany.

A year before the conference, I received an email from Dr. C. Jogler, who was very interested in my etching of Planctomyces Maris, which is part of the Symbiogenesis print. He wanted to know, why I had chosen this bacterium and how I applied the detail on the bacterium, as ” the so called craterifrom structures that give rise to the tube like structures look exactly like the structures you have drawn -sorry, etched. This is remarkable, since the artist just saw the structures while the biologist needs a multi million-dollar machinery to make them visible. .”[1]

I had selected a Planctomycete for my print, because the form was striking and it had enigmatic qualities according to my source. A sense of mystery seemed appropriate to me. The drawing I sourced was a bit clinical and not organic enough to my taste, so I added texture with crateriform structures, which on hindsight match with microscopic observations recently observed. My drawing of these structures is intuitive, but subliminally informed by years spent observing natural forms. There is also a remarkable sense of coincidence in the fact that Planctomycetes are now subject of intense study; whether they are evolutionary intermediaries in the transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes – the exact process I set out to portray.

We have maintained an interesting correspondence, which led to an invitation to present on Art and Science for the EMBO workshop: Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae Superphylum: Exceptions to the bacterial definition?

The conference was a wonderful experience. My presentation was well-received. It has been followed by a publication:

Kolijn, Eveline. “Observation and Visualization: reflections on the relationship between science, visual arts and the evolution of the scientific image.” Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 2013, Springer Science + Business media Dordrecht. DOI 10.1007/s10482-013-9951-z.

An author’s copy can be downloaded here.



OBSERVATION AND VISUALIZATION: Reflections on the relationship between science and visual arts, and the evolution of the scientific image.


Eveline Kolijn, MA, BFA,Visual artist 



The connections between biological sciences, art and printed image are of great interest to the author. She reflects on the historical relevance of visual representations for science. She argues that this connection seems to have diminished during the 20th century. However, this connection is currently growing stronger again through digital media and new imaging methods.


 Scientific illustrations have fuelled art, while visual modeling tools have assisted scientific research. As a print media artist, she explores the relationship between art and science in her studio practice and will present this historical connection with examples related to evolution, genetics and her own work.


 Art and science share a common source, which leads to scrutiny and enquiry. Science sets out to reveal and explain our reality, whereas art comments and makes connections that don’t need to be tested by rigorous protocol. Art and science should each be evaluated on their own merit. Allowing room for both in the quest to understand our world will lead to an enriched experience.

[1] Personal Communication