25 February 2015

"Exploring Art & Medicine"

First session of a course, run through Mary Ward Centre and tutored by Lucy Lyons, that takes us to places that the public usually doesn't get to go ... but then, how many of the public like drawing medical specimens? Some people are revolted by the thought of "diseased things in jars" and anatomical models, and in fact one person in the class found it all too much - so numbers are down to danger level in terms of the course continuing. If you'd like to join the class, please do so here!

Next Wednesday we'll be at the Pathology Museum of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, NW3 (class runs 2-5pm) and after that at Barts Pathology Museum, the British Red Cross Archives, Gordon Museum of Pathology, and finally the Old Operating Theatre, SE1.

Today we were at the Hunterian again, looking first at some paintings that were in Hunter's collection - depicting "otherness": a Malay woman, an Inuit woman, two Cherokee men (racially "other"), and also people with disfiguring conditions - dwarfism, endocrine disorder, skin pigmentation conditions -
The art area (via)
Piebaldism (via)
Daniel Lambert (via)
It was Count Boruwlaski, a Polish-born dwarf (1739-1837), who caught my eye (and could dance while playing the guitar, even in old age); he certainly got around in the courts of the day, giving subscription concerts, and at one point met Daniel Lambert. He eventually went to live in Durham, and there's a life-size statue of him in the town hall there.
Drawing from paintings is strange - you'd think it's easier than drawing from 3D objects, but somehow there's less freedom, and perhaps you're your own worst critic of the accuracy. Also, the pencil leaves out much of what a brush full of colour can put in.

I used to use pen all the time, rather than pencil, but even though I don't bother with erasing, doing this with a pen seems a step too far at the moment. (Must have a go...)

Next we looked at "the Irish giant", Charles Byrne, who was 2.31m (7' 7") tall, and betrayed by his undertaker - he wanted to be buried at sea but his corpse was sold to Hunter for £130 -
I was intrigued (or distracted?) by the shadows above his head, overlapping shadows of ribs cast by the bright little lights at floor level -
We also looked at the skeleton of "the Sicilian fairy", Caroline Crachami, allegedly the smallest person in human history -
Double portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon (via)
In the same room was a necklace of human teeth brought from Egyptian Sudan in 1889 by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, which interested me more than the bones of this sad exploited child (now recognised as having Seckel syndrome) -

1 comment:

beatrice De said...

That would have been a great idea for my pharmacies 's windows. Now, I am publishing photos of my shops windows, As you know, lot of pharmacies.
Love. BĂ©atrice.