Supporting healthcare professionals through challenging times

Dissecting images: medicine and the photographic body

24.03.21 - 28.04.21

Join Liz Orton and Sukey Parnell Johnson in exploring photographic treatments of the body, a six-week online course about health, illness and its representations.

Part of Performing Medicine’s Open Programme.

This course is now sold out, however we may re-program the course in the future. Please sign up to our mailing list to stay up to date.

How are our experience of illness shaped by visual representations? How is health culturally and ethically inscribed in images? We invite you to join us in exploring photographic treatments of the body, a six-week online course about health, illness and its representations.

This is an inter-disciplinary course, connecting visual practice to theory, using photography as a medium of both production and creative inquiry. We will explore how medical and photographic technologies – looking at, through and into us – categorise and codify bodies, and contribute to health inequalities. We will investigate how such images circulate in visual cultures, to ask:

  • What if we consider photographs as contaminating and infecting public imagination?
  • Why do we ‘look’ well and how might we re-figure images of health to reflect diverse bodies?
  • How can we disrupt harmful image pathologies? And what might care-ful and caring images look like?
  • How and where might we find a visual language for invisible illnesses?

This is a participatory course and uses a mixture of self-directed and collaborative photography, visual and archival research, collage, curation, critical inquiry, case-studies, photo dialogues and reading. In between the taught sessions, there will be photo/research tasks which will take around 1-2 hours to complete.

Course content includes:

  • Visual histories of photography and medicine
  • Self-directed and collaborative image-making
  • Experiments in cutting and collage as a form of material inquiry
  • Introduction to photography as a social research method
  • Artist case-studies

A full list of visual and textual references will be provided at the end of the course.

This course is suitable for anyone with an interest in health and images. A prior interest in the visual arts is helpful but not essential.

The dates of the six sessions are:

  • Wednesday 24th March 6-8pm
  • Wednesday 31st March 6-8pm
  • Wednesday 7th April 6-8pm
  • Wednesday 14th April 6-8pm
  • Wednesday 21st April 6-8pm
  • Wednesday 28th April 6-8pm

Sukey Parnell Johnson

From a performing background, Sukey Parnell Johnson’s photography sprang out of a fascination with feminine identity and the hidden psychic transitions experienced by women in later life. She has won various awards including being twice a finalist in the Photographic Prize at the National Portrait Gallery with images from her project on midlife, Women of an Uncertain Age, and portraits of Bill Bailey and Dame Joan Bakewell are housed in the national archive. Her work has appeared in Vogue, The Face, I-D, and the Sunday Times, amongst others. She was awarded a PhD (by practice) for her thesis and film, Hagging the Image, in 2018. She is currently associate lecturer at King’s College in the Medical Humanities programme and co-convenor of the Photography Research Network.


Liz Orton

Liz Orton is a visual artist working with images, performance, film and text to disrupt and re-imagine archival representations of landscape, technology and the body. Liz lectures on BA Photography at the London College of Communication, and has managed numerous participatory photography projects. She is the recipient of a Wellcome Trust Arts award for her project about medical imaging, Every Body is an Archive. She has published two artist books, and recently edited the collection of essays Becoming Image: Medicine and the Algorithmic Gaze. Liz exhibits widely and recent shows include Strata at York Museum, the New Observatory at FACT, and a solo performance at Bloomsbury Theatre.

Performing Medicine

Performing Medicine was founded by Clod Ensemble Artistic Director Suzy Willson. We have been delivering this award-winning learning programme to medical students at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, as well as NHS Trusts across the UK for over 15 years.

Our Open Programme

We are now opening some of our unique programmes to the general public, offering a wide range of workshops and courses that will focus on a range of subjects including anatomical drawing, photography with a medical gaze, embodying confidence, non-verbal communication and self-care. Perhaps you are looking to develop your personal practice, or looking to focus on personal development. Whether you are a student, healthcare professional, artist, leader of a team, or simply have an interest in our work, these courses will be interesting and relevant to people from all backgrounds and specialisms.

Explore the Open Programme.


Image credit Liz Orton

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