Interview with Dr L Marrow – Psychologist

How useful do you find art images in both your work and in a teaching capacity?

I’m not sure what you mean by “art” here. I find illustrations incredibly useful in my teaching, as a means of visualising difficult concepts or as aids for explanations and descriptions. These need to be accurate depictions of (usually) biological systems, though the style may be humorous, simple or realistic, depending – accuracy though is paramount. I do occasionally use more obvious “art works” to illustrate my teaching, but less frequently – maybe a portrait of a scientist, maybe to evoke an emotional state, maybe to just provide a sense of context e.g. Hogarth’s Gin Alley. I like to use images in my PowerPoint presentations to break up the words, and images can be powerful aids to communicate information (particularly difficult information).

Do you find that this affects your view on art generally? If so why?

I haven’t thought about it before – but, no, I don’t think it does. Unless it is to perceive some images that are anatomical representations as being incredible works of art in their own right – I love some of the recent scanned images.

Do you feel like your work challenges medical art in some way?

My work? No. My area? Possibly. Depicting connections within the brain is difficult. I’d like to have access to more high quality, accurate medical images of all sorts

Do you feel like the medical imagery out there has finished progressing/ growing?

No. I think there has been an obvious trend towards 3D and animation – the body is only in a static state when dead, and whilst dead things can tell us some invaluable information about how a body is put together, the mystery is in understanding the live relationships in physiology/anatomy. Three dimensional and moving images help to illustrate the physiological complexity of an organ like the brain, as well as demonstrating functional relationships.

 

Interview with Dr P Overton

How useful do you find art images in both your work and in a teaching capacity?

Illustrations (graphs, schematics, photographs) are a very important part of any scientific paper and if you get it right, they can save you the need to write hundreds of words. They’re also very useful for persuading people to read your papers – if the artwork is good, it gives the impression that you’ve found something significant out. The best journals (Nature, Science) take great care with their artwork, both the front cover art and inside the journal, and their artwork is one of the reasons for their success. Similarly with teaching – if you want to keep people interested in what you’re trying teach them, you need to have attention grabbing slides, and that usually comes down to art. Art also plays a critical role in giving people memorable information in lectures that they can recall as and when.

Do you find that this affects your view on art generally? If so why?

It only affects my view insofar as it reinforces my existing belief that art is critical for science. The journals I use have front cover illustrations to pull people in and it’s often the images that stay with you. When you read scientific text you’re often looking for the illustrations to help clarify the point that’s being made. Science and art have a proud shared history and for very good reason. When I was Head of Department, I got a small grant to take on an Artist in Residence. She created an installation which illustrated the symptoms of some mental health disorders – it was a great to have this alternative way to teach the general public about mental health.

Do you feel like your work challenges medical art in some way?

Medical art is always challenged – there may always be a ‘better way’ to illustrate a point, and you’re naturally limited by the current tools of the trade.

Do you feel like the medical imagery out there has finished progressing/ growing?

No – at one time colour was rare. Now we now have coloured images, 3D images, interactive images, graphical abstracts and videos used widely in science. I’m sure the future will bring new innovations, maybe using virtual reality, holograms etc.

 

Adrian Holme – MA Art and Science / BA Illustration Lecturer

With a scientific background, Adrian Holme’s practice is informed by his experiences through his studying and working in this discipline. During an interview with him, he explained that although he tries to be eclectic in his interests, there is an underlying engagement with biology, and more recently chemistry and physics.

It can be said that many artworks which try to involve science attempt to simplify its’ complexity to make it more understandable and therefore accessible to the public. Adrian Holme, however, never sees his work as being didactic about science but more working with concepts or ideas that are kin to this subject.

wind_pipe_1_resized

Whilst showing an example (see above image), Windpipe (2000), he explained that he tries to reference a connection between buildings and the body. The use of the chimney and balloons become a metaphor for the trachea, physically representing the movement of air from the lungs, or in this case, the building.

It was very interesting discussing the ideas and processes of the making which outline the work by Adrian Holme. For the group, we were able to discover another approach to how Art and Science can be combined. For some a connection to the inspiration of human biology can be obvious, however it can be open to interpretation.