Flex & Ply: Does my S3 look big in this?The training of an artist as warrior intervenor.

Karen Fleming, Sharon Conway

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Artist as intervenor in the creation, understanding and interpretation of a medical phenomenon- A demonstration with illustrations of how using artist methods can change understanding a reveal gaps in translation from taught 'knowledge' to real body interpretation. Usually when scientists work with artists, the scientist tells the artist about science, and the artist finds some way of presenting that to the public as an artwork. A team of textile artists has reversed that trend, by helping their science project partners develop new understandings of the human body – using, amongst other things the medium of a pair of jeans!Dermatomes are areas of skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. These are important in illness - when you get shingles, a dermatome area gets infected. They are also important in anaesthetics, if an area of skin needs to be numbed for an operation or procedure. There are standard maps of dermatomes in medical textbooks, dating back generations. However when artists and medical educators worked together and began painting the dermatomes on the living human body, they found that things weren't as simple as they seemed. The maps show front and back views, not the sides. "As a textile artist I was used to thinking about the seams at the sides of garments, so I was particularly interested in the side view. We were surprised to find that the text book pictures just didn't work - the front view and the back view didn't join up".This has both significance, in terms of how the conventional views came to be represented in text books, but could also have clinical significance, leading perhaps, to new understanding of the maps which are currently found in most doctors' surgeries.It can also lead to new fun ways of teaching that have impact upon engagement, learning and professionalism. The team was already exploring the use of haptic and craft engagement in a truly memorable way through body painting with medical students and radiography students in two UK universities. As a quicker version of getting the message across, three pairs of jean were created, showing different aspects of the dermatome maps. These strategies have been well received in the medical teaching environment, for example at Association for Medical Education in Europe conference and at international anatomical meetings. Here we will outline how art can enhance induction experience and promote deep learning, developing essential professional and communication skills through cross disciplinary research.And the title of the presentation? Your rear end is supplied by the third sacral nerve - so the title of the talk in Nantes is "Does my S3 look big in this?"The 11th ELIA Biennial Conference had 408 participants from 31 countries and 4 continents who came to Nantes from 27-30 October to share fresh insights and experiences on the current state of higher arts education. In a context of artistic research under pressure of the implementation of the 3rd cycle of the Bologna system, the artistic academic education confronted the benefits of artistic research to other subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Place of PublicationLive event and on web archive
PublisherEuropean League of Institutes of Art
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Oct 2010
EventHEARTH L'Art Au Coeur du Territoire 11th ELIA Biennial Conference - Nantes, France
Duration: 30 Oct 2010 → …


ConferenceHEARTH L'Art Au Coeur du Territoire 11th ELIA Biennial Conference
Period30/10/10 → …


  • art education


Dive into the research topics of 'Flex & Ply: Does my S3 look big in this?The training of an artist as warrior intervenor.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this