The inspiration:
Primitive Streak was essentially a gift from my sister Kate, at a time when I needed new direction. On a yellow ‘post-it note’ marked with a “?” she sent me a leaflet from the Wellcome Trust announcing a new scheme ‘Sci/Art’ – an initiative to bring artists and scientists together.

What it is:
Kate is a developmental biologist and she showed me her world. We had an idea to design a collection that communicated its wonder to others. Primitive Streak became a work that elucidated the first 1,000 hours of human life in textiles and dress. 27 pieces take the viewer on a journey from fertilisation to the recognisable human form.

What it is doing now:
A double award-winning project, Primitive Streak has toured in 7 countries since 1997, been seen by 3 million people and has been life changing. In collaboration with Creative Partnerships (an initiative of the Arts Council England) it has been used as the blueprint for a ’Creative Lab’, a concept which is now being replicated across the UK. It provides unique curricular inspiration for new teaching and learning. In November 2008 Creative Youth Partnerships (CYP) in Northern Ireland and the University of Ulster hosted a mini exhibition of Primitive Streak in Belfast. A Province wide education programme led by Lesley Quinn from CYP culminated in March 2009 in a public exhibition.

A film of Primitive Streak in Belfast by Ciaran Humprhies is available to view here

2011 Primitive Streak Tour:
Helen and Kate Storey have collaborated to create two new additions to the Primitive Streak collection, exploring the science behind the development and function of the lungs and respiratory health, which will be seen for the first time in 2011 in a UK tour. The new works incorporate bespoke textiles to evoke the feel and function of our respiratory surfaces. The tour has been funded by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, which has significantly contributed towards the development and creation of the new pieces. A new dedicated website has also been launched to accompany the tour. Please also see the news page and visit for tour details and further information.

Closing neural tube dress
Photograph by Justine
Model: Korinna at Models 1
“The effect of Primitive Streak on children must be the equivalent of the bible being translated into English years ago (it demystifies what should never have been mystical)”
Teacher visiting Primitive Streak