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The Beginnings...

( Scroll Down to Read ) At the beginning of this year I had a meeting with Professor Tilli Tansey to talk about working on a creative digital project connecting to The History of Modern Biomedicine...I was really excited as I’m fascinated about the connections to be found within science and art and so I jumped at the chance. Tilli Tansey OBE is a Professor of the History of Modern Medical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London, and for the last 5 years has been working on a research project funded by The Wellcome Trust, "The Makers of Modern Biomedicine: Testimonies and Legacy”, recording oral testimonies from people who have contributed significantly to modern medical science.

( scroll down ) I read Volume 50 of ‘ Witnesses to Modern Biomedicine", An A-Z’, to work out which stories sparked up images, or an interest which may provoke an image. My job was to find a way to illustrate some of these testimonies visually; creating photographic compositions to share on Instagram, here and Steller Stories and create opportunity for more people to access and read about this research particularly at The History of Modern Biomedicine website. Over the next 3 weeks I will be sharing my photographic illustrations as well as a bit of background around them and which stories interested me.

To be honest medical and science-ey things often make me feel a bit uncomfortable as I don’t feel the aesthetics oozing out of them like I do with plants and colour, so I knew the project was going to be a challenge...I fundamentally wanted to create images which draw you into a wider context and which also pull out details which not just science based people could connect to.

Some of my mother’s best advice to me is that if you’re scared of something you have to make yourself become fascinated by it; look at it in detail, understand exactly what it is, and even make a project out of it...

So, here you'll be able to see the project photographs & stories which have inspired them. There will be 4 albums here @Steller & on my blog over the next few weeks plus images on my Instagram


In the 1970's before the breathalyser was introduced, psychologist Dr Ivan Brown set up an experiment with a local car club to measure driver's performance after alcohol...some people had 1 glass, others had 2 and they worked out ways to measure small changes in driver's 'reserve capacity' even after only one glass...


In the 1950's Dr James Porterfield, from the Common Cold Unit described how, in the 1950's, the severity of a cold was measured by how many handkerchiefs were used & whether the volunteer had sneezed or coughed. These totals were then counted up at the end for research purposes...


This test was first offered to women in 1964. The job was so time consuming that pathologists took on people on a trial basis, during which time they were given no office and no desk. Professor Dulcie Coleman ( consultant cytopathologist ) remembers having to set up her microscope on the mantlepiece of the fireplace where she was left to get on with it.


Professor Alan Emond wanted to research placentas for ALSPAC but for years placentas had been sold by hospitals to the cosmetic industry so there was a potential barrier to participation in his research. It seemed a rather an unethical situation at the hospital though, as the women giving birth didn't know that their placentas were being sold for use in cosmetics!


Part 2 covers research carried out in Wales & a field trip I took there... The Modern Biomedicine Research Group funded by a strategic award from The Wellcome Trust & has a website HERE , a Facebook page HERE , a YouTube Channel HERE & their Twitter account is HERE .

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  • adiandbert

    What a brilliant combination - having an artist communicate science. Loving it already 💟

  • 5ftinf

    @adiandbert thanks so much! It's been such an interesting project scientifically and creatively!! 🔬

  • BDY

    Fun project! Thanks.

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