Art of Reconstruction: Press Release – 30th August 2011



Invitation to exhibition private view:

5pm, Friday 9 September 2011, University of Lincoln



30 August 2011


Surgeons swap operating theatre for artists’ studio

 Plastic surgeons are stepping out of the operating theatre and into the artists’ studio in a series of ground-breaking workshops which revive the ancient relationship between medicine and the arts.

 Consultant plastic surgeons from major UK hospitals are working alongside academics at the University of Lincoln to develop drawing and modelling skills normally the preserve of Fine Art students, which they can then apply to breast and facial reconstruction.

 The objective is to instil in surgeons the same aesthetic principles which underpin artists’ understanding of the form of the human body.

 Michael Healey, Professor of Art and Design at the University, said: “Throughout history, the disciplines of art and medicine have been closely entwined, from the times of Aristotle and Hippocrates in ancient Greece, through to Galen and Leonardo da Vinci in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

 “With the great advances in medicine in the last century, there seems to have been a divergence between the two.”

 The sessions have informed a major new research project, The Art of Reconstruction, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It will lead to journal articles, a dedicated website, videos, teaching materials and the establishment of an international network of surgeons, artists and academics with more training opportunities in the coming years.

 Prof Healey, who is leading the research, added: “Through this research we hope to examine the intersection of art and science and evaluate whether art-based skills do have a valuable role to play within the operating theatre.”

 Now a new exhibition about the project is to open to the public at the University of Lincoln from Monday 12 to Thursday 15 September 2011, with a special preview for invited guests. 

 Professor Michael Esson, Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln’s School of Art and Design and Director of the International Drawing Research Institute at the University of New South Wales, Australia is the artist leading the workshops. Prof Esson pioneered art-based workshops for plastic surgeons in Australia and New Zealand and more than 70 of Oceania’s senior plastic surgeons have completed his courses over the last decade.

 The sessions include exercises on how to interpret complex visual information such as lighting, proportion and perspective, as well as hands-on experience of life-drawing, portraiture and sculpture.

 “The workshops examine how we make judgements about beauty, symmetry and proportion,” said Prof Esson.

 “We introduce the surgeons to observational and perceptual skills which are standard in many art schools but which are largely new to them. For example, we consider how lighting and the angle at which we approach an object can affect our judgement of its form. We then take these strategies and consider what the parallel processes might be in the operating theatre.”

 Guy Sterne, consultant plastic surgeon at Birmingham City Hospital and senior tutor at the Royal College of Physicians, was a delegate at one of the Lincoln workshops.

 He said: “It was an excellent workshop experience and a very enjoyable three days, but most importantly it made a definite difference to my clinical practice. After completing the workshop and returning to the operating theatre, I have made several adjustments to my operating procedure.”

 For more information and updates on the Art of Reconstruction project, visit: 

For further information contact:
Thirzah Wildman, PR Strategy & Development Manager
(01522) 886390