Hunterian Museum

With some of us never having visited the Hunterian Museum, we realised that we were morbidly curious. An eclectic mix of organs and skeletons from different species all museologically arranged to encourage discovery. It was difficult to gauge our own thoughts and opinions; having the opportunity to see internal components whilst thinking about the morality of objectifying the dead (similar to the experience had by students on the anatomy course).

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It was intriguing how this microscope was used in the 1840’s as a scientific instrument, however now we are using it with more of an artistic purpose. Displaying the microscopic to Scouts, rather than keeping it within the confines of the science industry.

Reflection of the Anatomy Course

Recently, my fellow peers from across UAL and I participated in the Kings College anatomy course. This was an unique opportunity to talk to professionals in the medical industry, while learning a range of techniques that are used in medical art.

Being at Kings college allowed artists to view a diverse range of specimens and engage with a more hands on approach. This was a wonderful experience to be able to study the textures and details of the human body as well as identifying their abnormalities. The course leader Eleanor Crook, historically a lecturer at UAL Central Saint Martins, now specialises primarily in wax sculptures has been a leading tutor at Kings College for over a decade. We learnt the key components of the body and how they work while also understanding the historical context of medical art and key artists that challenged the practice.

As the course progressed, we moved away from examining jarred specimens to drawing cadavers (dead bodies) in the dissecting laboratory. This enabled me to closely study the internal features of the human body; understanding why medical art is so necessary for the present day. Talking to Eleanor Crook allowed me to address peoples concerns of balancing art and science whilst understanding how she overcame these limitations that arose in the medical art practice. One of the main highlights of the course was experimenting with wax. Layering this different medium onto a plaster cast skull was more engaging than the drawing aspect of the course. It enabled us to learn the different names and functions of the facial muscles, whilst getting stuck in.

The anatomy course was a unique experience which has extended my knowledge of human development in my own practice. Overall, I feel that any artists wanting to challenge the notion of art and science should participate in the course.

Below you will see art works drawn by me and and two fellow artist in 4D2PS

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Our Visit to the Natural History Museum 

The Natural History Museum tailors itself to the teaching of young minds to explore and evoke curiosity through the field of science. An example of this could be the Discovery Centre, the area allows what the name suggests, providing workshop experiences that teach children about the vast collection of species on display, and their various ecosystems. The museum is perfectly equipped for entertaining and educating children of various a​ges, something we have to take into consideration for our Scout workshops.

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Kew Gardens

Visiting Kew Gardens was a great opportunity to gather a large range of photographic sources to later develop. Being home to many endangered tropical plants, allowed us to document a vibrant array of organic patterns whilst also providing us with the opportunity to see how other artists have engaged with nature.

Below you will see photos from the Kew Gardens visit hope you enjoy  !!!

Dissection Lab at Guy’s Campus – the Anatomy Course 

The smell of formaldehyde is one which is hard to forget, this chemical creates the feeling of suffocation. We were in a room with 30/40 uncontained cadavers which unsurprisingly meant that it was the artists who were phased by them. As time passed our unease disappeared as we began to associate them as sculptures in their own right. Fortunately for the artists, this course came at the end of the medical academic year meaning these bodies had been involved in multiple dissections already. The state of the human bodies had been changed to the extent that they almost became impersonal and objectified. This unique experience gave us an insight into the medical profession and what they can be subjected to.

We were provided with the opportunity to handle the organs which was unsettling at first. During the second session we became more comfortable and felt more confident in drawing sections of the cadavers. We saw the effects of death on the human body where: some of the nails had kept growing; discolouration started to occur in the nail beds and the skin had started to possess a quasi-leathery quality.

Learning the different tendons in the hand, from real life models, became crystal clear as the information provided by our tutor then became easy to digest and retain. Being able to lift and touch the different layers meant we could fully understand the human body to greater enhance our drawing skills.