14 February 2015

Revisiting medical specimens

As the Royal College of Surgeons is close to City Lit, students in drawing classes are often taken to the Hunterian Museum for a session - I was last there as part of the "museum" course in 2013, wondering what to draw and why...

This time I went more willingly, to an afternoon session led by Lucy Lyons (who will be teaching a short course called "Exploring Art and Medicine" at Mary Ward Centre, starting 25 Feb). First stop was the "War, Art, and Surgery" exhibition, where we drew from Tonks' drawings of WW1 soldiers with facial wounds. Lucy pointed out how important it was to these men to be looked at in the steady way needed for drawing, without being judged, rather than being ignored.
Wax model used for training surgeons (via)
War injuries, drawn by surgeon Henry Tonks (via)
Being in the habit of photographing what I'm drawing, I would have liked "an original" but photography isn't allowed in the museum ... and I'm starting to wonder why, after spending all that time looking at an object or artwork during the drawing, I feel I need the photograph.
After Tonks - two young men with facial injuries, Corporal PJ Smith and Private Joseph Hickey
 Next, looking at a few tools and instruments -
Then, what I found most difficult, diseased bones - what are we looking at, what are we seeing, what is there to understand and what needs to be understood for the drawing to "be real"?
The left femur shows "osteoplastic changes to the distal shaft as a result of inflamation below the periosteum" and the right shows "changes to the bone consistent with Paget's disease of bone (osteitis deformans)" - that doesn't help me much...

Around the corner, an interesting object in a square glass jar -
"the last eight thoracic vertebrae of a lion showing evidence of severe osteoarthritis of the spine".

A challenging session - but interesting, definitely.

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