into respiratory…

Musculo-skeletal module over – here comes Respiratory. I am moving well out of my comfort zone in this Anatomical Sciences Diploma but it is an exciting journey. The last few weeks have been hugely enjoyable for me. The course is fulfilling expectations and I feel as if my existing knowledge, which was – excuse the pun – a little disjointed, has been given direction and a sense of cohesiveness that, perhaps, only the injection of a little science can really generate. Someone said somewhere, sometime, that art is feeling, everything else is science. I’m not sure that is entirely true, I’m not necessarily fond of binary division, and especially since for this next month, as visiting artist in CAHID at the University of Dundee, I am combining both art and science, feeling and thought/knowledge, in and around the dissecting room! Ethical considerations prohibit me from publishing the drawings I am making in the DR, so here are a couple of images from my course notebook.

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week 5: muscles!

For the last couple of weeks I have been juggling studying with teaching and preparing work for an exhibition of my anatomical waxworks, drawings and paintings. The exhibition, A Long Table Of Curiosities has been kindly sponsored by @madeinroath2017 which is the organising body behind an annual arts festival here in Cardiff. The image for this post then is of a life size wax foetus that is based on drawings I made of the real thing at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. 

Now the show is up I have the time to get back to studying muscles and preparing to write the required essay for this semester. Visitors to the exhibition therefore not only get to see the work itself but also text books full of beautiful photographs of anatomical dissections of musculature that are really helpful. I have discovered that the dissections by one Bari M. Logan are fantastically prepared and are beautifully photographed at life size in a very old edition of McMinn’s Colour Atlas of Human Anatomy that I have recently acquired. It is interesting that Logan’s name only appears buried in a general acknowledgements paragraph and not on the cover. Artists I find are often unappreciated in this way…Henry Carter’s name was minimised by Grey when he received proofs of his famous tome and Rymsdyk was treated very shabbily by William Hunter. 

week 2: the skeleton

This last week and the next two weeks of the anatomical sciences course focus on the skeleton. It is a, relatively,  gentle way into the course for me as the musculo-skeletal system is the one of the eleven body systems in total that I am most familiar with. The yawning gap between the perspectives on the subject – the art and/or the science – is becoming increasingly apparent as I am delving deeper and further into the subject, but I am excited, happy to struggle with the nuances of a field that has always fascinated me.

In the studio at the moment I am putting together a body of work for exhibition at the Anatomical Society‘s annual winter meeting which this year is to be held in Dundee. I am delighted to have this opportunity to show a collection of drawing, paintings and wax sculptures. Here is the poster for the show.anatomy-poster-1

 

first week

First week done! First week’s test successfully completed! Am I happy with the course? YES!

This first week of the Anatomical Sciences PG online course I am pursuing with Edinburgh University has been a good introduction to what is to come, and although I have found it relatively manageable in terms of what knowledge I already have it is very clear that things will soon begin to become much more challenging. I am delighted though at the potential, and the direction I am receiving towards seeking further and deeper into the substance of the subjects being introduced.

While covering the basics of body structure and systems, an important thing that I have woken up to already is how the definition of anatomy, and how the subject is understood, is so dependent on the perspective from which you are attempting to understand. My artistic background in anatomy is obviously hugely lacking in area beyond the musculo-skeletal systems however it is also  at odds sometimes with the science I am working with. It seems contradictory to suggest that the study of anatomy, which would seem to be an implacable and rigorous science full of fact, might, in fact, be considered ‘socially constructed’. But then, in the sense that, really, all understanding is socially constructed it perhaps isn’t such a strange idea and is rather quite an exciting one… indeed, an eye opener!

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it begins

Today I am beginning a PG Anatomical Sciences Online Distance Learning program with the University of Edinburgh. I have decided to launch myself into this because, although as a classically trained artist I have a grounding in superfskeleton - oil on canvasicial musculo-skeletal anatomy, this is not enough for me! I want to go further, deeper, and bury my subjective, qualitative and humanist mind into the fertile soil of the objective, quantitative and scientific field to find out what will grow from such a symbiosis. The seed has already been sown by my explorations into anatomical details in dissection labs both here and in the USA, and through my teaching anatomical form and function to other artists who  hunger to understand what lies beneath the surface. But now,  ‘subcutaneous’ knowledge must give way to a more thorough comprehension and for that I need what can often be an anathema to an artist…I need structure and discipline!

This blog then will become a repository for my thoughts and for my feelings, for my frustrations (which I am sure will become close companions) and my joys (of which I  hope there will be some!) throughout the process. I hope that the posts I will offer here will be of interest to artists and to scientists alike because ultimately I am convinced that both need each other just as flesh needs bone.

I am quietly excited.