'A Cleft in Time'
Outreach workshop for local schools exploring narratives of young people with cleft palate through art as part of the Science Gallery London 'MOUTHY' Season.
I am a visual artist living in Bristol who is dual qualified in both medicine and dentistry - clinically I'm currently a GP trainee and NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow with the Centre for Academic Primary Care (University of Bristol) where I am exploring clinical humanities research and education as part of my training. I originally qualified as a doctor from Brighton and Sussex Medical School with an additional intercalated degree in Anatomy from King’s College London (KCL) and from there I worked as a doctor for University Hospitals Bristol, including as a Clinical Teaching Fellow. Additionally I have dual qualified as a dentist from KCL, completed further postgraduate training in medical education, gained fellowship to the Higher Education Authority and the Diploma of Member of the Royal College of Surgeons England.
My work as an artist however has been intrinsically linked to my medical pathway and intersects many facets of my career as a health professional. After working as a portrait artist for commission since a teenager, my arts practice quickly moved towards a parallel career. Inevitably, since choosing to go to medical school rather than studying art at university, I have stubbornly and experimentally found ways to create an integrated pathway.
Today, I aim to utilise my role as an artist to traverse between skill sets in order to explore and engage with themes I experience within the medical environment. My work incorporates collaborative practice to explore arts in healthcare, public engagement with science and the use of arts in medical education. Often I collaborate under the umbrella of art/science organisations to share skills and knowledge between professionals across disciplines such as the Institute of Unnecessary Research, for whom I am a departmental head, and recently as an ongoing collaborator for the new Health Humanities Centre at the University of Reading.
Much of my work continues to explore issues surrounding the body and identity, including surgery, anatomy and furthermore the ethics of using the body in artwork. As an example, my collaboration with Lighthouse Brighton and the Wellcome Trust, The Laboratory Life project, explored the ethics of genetic modification and in an open lab structure encouraged public debate of science, aesthetics and philosophy. My artistic practice aims to provide engaging and accessible art/science experiences and my artwork traverses different mediums including fine art, performance, bio-art and digital media. I often utilise resources within the medical environment to facilitate educational artistic opportunities, such as the development of dissection room art workshops using cadaverous material to aid anatomical exploration beyond the normal student curriculum.
I recently project managed and was the lead artist on the arts initiative 'A Cleft in Time' with the South West Cleft Service, CLAPA (cleft lip and palate association), Above & Beyond and the Science Gallery London, utilising the arts to explore the impact of cleft on young people. The project at its heart was about the experiences of young people and exploration of their journey through the healthcare system as they grow up, with a particular concentration on psychological wellbeing.
I have also notably been the artist in residence at the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation (Queen Victoria Hospital), exploring burns and wound healing research relating back to stories of patients with severe facial injuries treated at the hospital during World War II. The year long residency within the 50th anniversary of the research charity utilised wet-lab time as an artist, clinical skills working amongst the plastic surgeons, uncovering historical accounts and opening dialogue between personnel affected by the work of the charity. The project led to the production of artwork for exhibition, public engagement arts events and an interdisciplinary research symposium.
Utilising my educational role, I work freelance and for commission delivering lectures, workshops and collaborative projects exploring the transection of art & medicine. Notably I tutor on the Clinical Humanities year 2 MBBS course at King's College London and I am a visiting tutor for Bristol Medical School where I co-lead an art & medicine SSC on facial difference and identity. I also contribute to artistic courses including as a visiting lecturer on the head and neck anatomy portraiture course at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. I have also provided advisory roles consulting on the new humanities curricula at GKT Dental Institute, Bristol Medical School and for the 3Ts project at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust. Furthermore, I have spoken at a wide variety of institutions and conferences regarding medical arts, such as the University of Cambridge, The Royal College of Surgeons, the Medical Artists Association, the University of Warwick and at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
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