FLEX + PLY Textile Metaphors For Anatomy. An Exhibition

Karen Fleming, John Charles McLachlan, Gabrielle Finn, Aoife Ludlow

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Fleming was PI of ‘Flex and Ply’ a Wellcome Trust funded collaboration in which she headed an arts team at Ulster with Professor John McLachlan leading medical collaborators at Durham University. How can ephemeral fashion and body painting contribute to medical knowledge and understanding? The initial ‘dermatomes’ body of work centred on a collaborative mapping process and the TAP research methodology (outcome 3) identified further research questions. This subsequent work employed mixed methods and a grounded theory approach to develop knowledge and theory through observation about invisible maps of the body. This informed the development of artworks for exhibition and academic outcomes researching the development of the maps. Art and design was central to consideration of how the visual material came to be represented in its current form. Content analysis (NVivo9) was applied to the development of 20Century maps. Comparative analysis of published studies led to scaling the flat maps onto garment pattern pieces of ubiquitous jeans, with 4 pairs of jeans representing 100 years of maps. These clearly demonstrated how the 2D norm of the map operated ineffectually on 3D bodies, how evolving artistic conventions, prevailing design values, ethics, politics and rebranding in successive illustrations have influenced the scientific interpretation of what purport to be neutral objects. A paper for 4th International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science (Fleming, McLachlan 2010) also developed a narrative to conserve and (re-) acknowledge the pioneering legends (Head and Campbell 1900, Foerster 1933 Keegan and Garrett 1948) whose research originated the clinically significant maps.The grounded approach detected in responses to the work cultural attitudes to the anatomical position, asymmetrical dynamic movement, to colour and to gender. The work was digitally printed and woven in a technically challenging and innovative digital warp printing process with visiting professor Paul Turnbull to produce double sided images at greater than life size that could be exhibited with light intervention in non-art spaces. A launch of the Blashko and Langer lines work at the Hunterian Anatomy Museum, Glasgow (2010) coincided with AMEE conference, with subsequent exhibition at Flowerfields in 2010. ); Two venues in the largest hospital in Europe- James Cook University Hospital and events as part of National Pathology Week (2010). A projection was developed that was part of Europe-wide Paint a Building Blue (2010.) The use of art processes to interrogate 2D mapping was presented in the peer reviewed 11th European League of Institutes of Art Biennial Conference Fleming K, Conway S., McLachlan, J.C. (2010) ‘Artist as Warrior Intervenor. How are professionalism and employability enhanced by cross-disciplinary engagement? Conventionally, 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. Fleming’s Wellcome trust funded team reversed that trend, by helping their science project partners develop new understandings of the human body. Related publications - ‘The art of teaching anatomy – a case study’ Conway, Breen, Fleming in Pedagogies and Practice Vol 1 issue 1. Pp (insert) ISBN (insert) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJHftAGZ6c4
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Sept 2010
EventFLEX + PLY Textile Metaphors For Anatomy. An Exhibition - Hunterian Anatomy Museum at the University of GLasgow / Glasgow, UK
Duration: 3 Sept 20106 Sept 2010

Bibliographical note

Event (exhibition): FLEX + PLY Textile Metaphors For Anatomy. An Exhibition
Installation of over 20 large scale artworks and artefacts in the 3 galleries. At the opening event and at workshops during the exhibition the wearable artefacts could be explored.
Flowerfields Art Centre / Co Londonderry.
06-11-2010 / 27-11-2010
Event (exhibition): National Pathology WEEK: FLEX + PLY Textile Metaphors For Anatomy. An Exhibition
Press release, October , 2010
Pathology: the Building Blocks of Life
As part of National Pathology Week, staff from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s pathology department are holding interesting events to promote the vital role of pathology in patient care.

The Division of Pathology is hosting a unique exhibition of silk art works sponsored jointly by The Durham and Ulster Universities. The materials demonstrated are routinely used as anatomical teaching aids for 20th century medical students. The images depict a variety of anatomies which were originally produced as a part of an art and science collaborations by The Universities of Durham and Ulster . The project, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, which explored ‘Material Metaphors for Anatomy’ . Professor Karen Fleming Ulster University ( textiles ), Professor John McLachlan (Undergraduate Medicine) and Gabrielle Finn Durham University (anatomy) are taking time from their busy schedules to meet and greet trust representatives and the public at 12.00 pm Monday 1st November to talk through the exhibits. A small number of stands will be manned by a variety of pathology staff to answer general questions and queries about pathology services.
Exhibits will include Silk depictions of Anatomical landmarks, an Innovative and remarkable Incision gown which gives the wearer an accurate depiction of where operative incisions are made and more importantly how big and visible they are likely to be.
Exhibits will be on display in the Atrium at The James Cook and The Hub at the Friarage Hospital 1st - 5th November 2010
Further information
National Pathology Week is organised by the Royal College of Pathologists and aims to raise awareness of the role that pathology has in everyday healthcare – from diabetes and cancer, to the flu virus and the fight against hospital acquired infections.

For further information visit www.nationalpathologyweek.org.

National Pathology Week is coordinated by The Royal College of Pathologists and sponsored by Siemens. It is made possible by the hard work and effort of the hundreds of pathologists, scientists and technical and administrative staff working in hospital pathology laboratories across the UK.
James Cook University Hospital / Co. Durham
01-11-2010 / 05-11-2010
Outputmediatype: Textiles and performance


  • Art
  • Textiles
  • Anatomy
  • Medical Education


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