Anatomical Art Exhibition 2020: an Interview with the Director

With less than 5 weeks to submit artwork for UCL Anatomical Art Exhibition 2020: Mirrored Anatomies, we interviewed the exhibition Director to get a better idea of what the upcoming exhibition is all about, and to get her top tips for artists who wish to submit their work!

1. Please Introduce yourself.

Hi. My name’s Claudia. I am a fourth-year UCL Medical Student and this year’s Exhibition Director for UCL Anatomy Society. I am excited to bring two seemingly separate passions of mine, anatomy and art, into one.
Though scientific in nature, I believe Medicine is art of communication, of observation and, of people. I was awarded a Heller Bursary (2018-19) from UCLMS to pursue a drawing course at the Slade School of Fine Art. When comparing my work in the Anatomy Lab to life drawing class, I noted that both are unique, private environments, where we have the privilege to observe and study the anatomy of another individual, and that a degree of clinical or artistic detachment is conducive to analysis.

2. What is this academic year’s Anatomical Art Exhibition theme?

“Mirrored Anatomies”. We think “Mirrored” can really have a wide range of interpretations. It could be scientific, abstract or literal.
If you need some inspiration, think along the lines of twins, cases of situs inversus and symmetry/asymmetry. Or consider the body’s ability to mirror another body’s movements, consciously in dance, or unconsciously with yawning or someone you like. This is because of special ‘mirror neurones’ nerve cells!
On a more abstract level, mirrors also imply reflection and perception – how do you see yourself in a mirror, is it your true self, and what about in mental health disorders like anorexia?

3. What was your inspiration for this year’s theme?

I started by thinking about what I found beautiful in anatomy. My first thought was ballet dancers, who typically have slim and athletic bodies that reveal so much surface anatomy. I thought: how could I incorporate dance into an exhibition? I then thought of a duet, with two persons mirroring each other’s movements.
The theme is particularly fitting because this year marks 500 years since Leonardo Da Vinci’s death. He had a unique and creative mind. Although he was left-handed, he wrote from right to left, with the writing completely “Mirrored”. His drawings are recognisable because of the “Mirrored” shading, reflecting the easier direction of marking a paper for a left-handed person.

4. Why is art important in anatomy/ relationship between anatomy and art?

At the time when Leonardo da Vinci originally trained as an artist, it was necessary to study anatomy for a realistic, accurate depiction. Yet, he was so fascinated by anatomy, that he progressed with its study far beyond the knowledge required to produce artistic work – he practiced cadaveric dissection.
In the past, anatomy dissection rooms were open to both artists and medics, but it is primarily reserved for the latter nowadays. An exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts displayed these écorché figures that were created from de-skinned cadavers, and together with sculptures, formed part of artists’ preliminary training – before they were considered good enough to learn drawing from life models. At the RA they have an in-house Professor of Anatomy, a tradition that has held since the establishment of the academy in the 18th century.

5. Top 3 tips for artists who want to submit artwork

Tip 1: think carefully about what “Mirrored” means to you and any initial thoughts that come to mind.
Tip 2: attend our workshop series! We have some very exciting events lined up, including a collaboration with UCL Art Society, and of course, the talk by the current RA Professor of Anatomy.
Tip 3: start working on your piece early! This will give you plenty of time to think about the theme, work on your piece and refine it.

Picture 1claudia

Check out the Anatomical Art Exhibition 2020: Mirrored Anatomies tab above for more information:

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