Anatomy Season (2011)

A series of conversations, performances and workshops inspired by the theme of anatomy featuring artists, anatomists, medics and thinkers. The Season took place across London in venues including Sadler’s Wells, Wellcome Collection and Whitechapel Gallery.


Anatomy Acts Conversations
10 November | Wellcome Collection
Andrew Cunningham, Gianna Bouchard, Simon Chaplin, Helen Nicholson (Chair)

In this discussion chaired by Helen Nicholson, Professor of Theatre and Performance at Royal Holloway University of London, four speakers dissected the intimate relationship between anatomy and performance, spectacle and display. The first speaker is Andrew Cunningham (7:35-23:47), a senior research fellow in the History of Medicine in the department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, who has written two books on the history of anatomy: The Anatomical Renaissance (1997) and The Anatomist Anatomis'd (2010). In his presentation he traces the history of anatomy theatres and examines the public anatomy lessons of Renaissance Italy. Gianna Bouchard (23:57-51:18) is Principal Lecturer in Drama at the Anglia Ruskin University, whose research focuses on the medicalised body in contemporary performance, exploring the interface between medical practice and discourse and performance practices. In her presentation she provides an analysis of Gunther von Hagen’s controversial ‘Bodyworks’ exhibitions, focusing on its ethical implications. Simon Chaplin (51:22-1:10:55) is head of the Wellcome Library at the Wellcome Trust, whose historical research focuses on the history of dissection and anatomical museums. In his talk he describes the anatomical museum of the eighteenth-century surgeon John Hunter as a link between the Renaissance and the present day. Whilst at times the speakers refer to powerpoint images, they also make general points and arguments. The talks are followed by 15 minutes of questions and discussion with the audience (1:11:09).

Hybrid Bodies
12 November, Whitechapel Gallery
ORLAN and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck

World renowned performance artist ORLAN has an extraordinary body of work, which spans many mediums including sculpture, photography and plastic surgery. She calls her work “carnal art” and views the body as a material like any other. In this talk, introduced by Jennifer Parker-Starbuck for the Anatomy Season 2011, ORLAN talks about how she has used surgery as an aesthetic medium to think about her relationship to other bodies, other species and technology. In doing so she challenges ideas about the female body, identity, pain and perceptions of the ‘open body’.

Screening the body
19 November | Whitechapel Gallery
Roberta McGrath, Christina Lammer and Richard Wingate

Moving images are used as diagnostic tools every day but how and when did such techniques come to be accepted sources of knowledge about the body in medical culture?

Artists Talk Anatomy
20 November | Whitechapel Gallery
Christine Borland, Eleanor Crook, Susan Aldworth and Susanna Biernoff (Chair)

Susanna Biernoff, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture at Birkbeck University chaired this event, in which four artists whose work is deeply influenced by the study of anatomy talked about their work. Christine Borland (2:30-21:10) is a British artist who draws on anatomical skills and expertise in her work. Starting with a description of an early experience buying a human skeleton, she outlines how collaborations with anatomists, ethicists, forensic scientists amongst others have influenced her work. Eleanor Crook (21:10-40:30) speaks about her work as a sculptor specialising in wax anatomical and surgical models, making models for the science museum, the Royal College of Surgeons, and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital. Susan Aldworth (40:30-57:50) studied philosophy prior to studying printmaking, and she discusses her approach which fuses personal narratives with philosophical and medical approaches. Following the presentations are questions from the audience and discussion (57:50-1:11:15).

Unravelling Anatomy
20 November | Whitechapel Gallery
The Knit Crowd and special guests including Dr Ceri Davis, Karen Fleming, Dylan Morrissey and Sarah Simblet

The Knit Crowd hosted a discussion about various methods of teaching anatomy across art and medical education with the opportunity to 'knit your own organ'.

Fantastic Voyage
24 November | Wellcome Collection
Susan Standring, Marius Kwint, Laura Wright and Daniel Glaser (Chair)

This conversation explored the ancient idea of anatomy as a voyage of discovery involving a mapping, naming and collecting of the body. Chaired by Daniel Glaser, Director of the Science Gallery at King’s College London, four panellists present insights into the topic, followed by a discussion and questions from the audience (51:04). Susan Standring (03:34-23:50) is Emiritus Professor of Anatomy at King’s College London, Editor in Chief of Gray’s Anatomy and a past president of the Anatomical Society. She discusses the idea of ‘maps’ in the history of anatomy from the fourteenth century to the present. Marius Kwint (23:58-40:25) is Lecturer in Visual Culture at the University of Portsmouth, and his recent research has involved investigating brain collections in Europe and America. In his presentation he considers the acquisition of anatomical collections in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Laura Wright (40:25-51:04) is reader in English Language at the University of Cambridge, and her talk focuses on the clothed body.

Body Beliefs
8 December | Wellcome Collection

The panel discussion explored different systems of thinking about human form and examined the danger of strongly held or undeclared beliefs about bodies.


An Anatomie in Four Quarters
28 October | Sadler's Wells Theatre
Clod Ensemble

Thirty dancers and musicians, and an audience of two hundred, cut through the magnificent interior of Sadler's Wells Theatre. Produced in association with Fuel.

Anatomy Lessons
8, 9 November | Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's Wells Wendy Houstoun, John Hegley, Malika Booker, Brian Lobel [link to Brian's page], Anna Williams and Lois Weaver

Six extraordinary artists presented their own inimitable anatomy lesson.

Sand Table
29-30 November | Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's WellsMeg Stuart/Damaged Goods and Magali Desbazeille

In this stunning installation, two live dancers manipulated the image of a body projected onto a table of sand which shifts dissolves and reforms with every touch.

MUST the inside story
15 November | Anatomy Theatre, King's College
Peggy Shaw and Clod Ensemble

Accompanied by a live band, legendary performer Peggy Shaw excavated the memories and images that shelter in her joints and unearthed the stories embedded in layers of bone. Produced in association with Fuel.

Through the Weeping Glass
On the Consolations of Life Everlasting
27 November | Wellcome Collection
Quay Brothers

Anatomical Objects in Philadelphia's Mütter Museum are brought to life through the Quays indomitable visual language in this UK premier of their latest work.

Covet Me, Care for Me
26, 27 November | Wellcome Collection
Sheila Ghelani

A quietly brutal, celebratory performance where members of the audience were invited to break their own glass heart with a hammer and consider the mixed-up mess that resides in us all.


Anatomy Through Movement
12, 13 November | Sadler's Wells
Niamh Dowling, Angelika Grohmann, Barbara Houseman and Leon Baugh

A weekend of workshops explored anatomy through movement with acclaimed dance, yoga and theatre practitioners.

Anatomical Drawing
19 November | Whitechapel Gallery
Sarah Simblet

A workshop investigating the intricate structure of the human skeleton through drawing.

Sculpting Anatomy
20 November | Whitechapel Gallery
Eleanor Crook

Eleanor encouraged the group to get to grips with the gross anatomy of the head and neck in this wax modeling workshop.

Anatomical Waves
22 November | Jerwood Space
Cathy Ryan

This workshop deepened understanding of its participants own anatomy through moving meditation inspired by Gabrielle Roth's 5 Rhythms.

The Poetic Body
3, 4 December | Siobhan Davies Studios
Giovanni Fussetti and Aurelian Koch

A weekend of movement and anatomical exploration inspired by the great theatre teacher Jacques Lecoq.

Inside Information
5 December | Hunterian Museum
Susan Standring, Karen Ingham and Catherine Mollyneux

Explored the Hunterian Museum's anatomical collection after hours from a specific and an artistic point of view.

Professor Kneebone’s Incredible Inflatable, Pop Up Anatomy Lesson
10 December | Wellcome Collection
Professor Roger Kneebone, Dr Fraser Smith, Omar Faiz

A 45 minute anatomy lesson in inflatable surgery giving a close up idea of what is where inside the human body.