Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Headspanner

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Well I made it, I ducked in under the wire on the very last day of the exhibition Brains. The Mind as Matter. So glad I did.

As I set out Mr Uphilldowndale asked ‘Where is it you’re going?’ (in that husband and wife way that says we’ve may have been talking to one another all week but were we listening?)  ‘I’m going to see an exhibition about the brain, a mixture of science and art’ I replied. ‘Can you mix the two?’ he asked (I hoped he was jesting, as Leonardo Da Vinci seemed to manage it OK). ‘It’s at the Museum of Science and Industry’ I told him. ‘Ahh that’s OK then’ he replied. Ever the engineer. 

 

My favourite  art exhibit was by Katherine Dowson*  My Soul 2005 no photograph I can find does really does it justice.  Laser etched in  two blocks of glass,  it shimmered like a mirage, now you see it now you don’t . Now you understand it now you don’t,

 

 

 

Wellcome Trust employee Zoe Middleton poses for the media by a work entitled 'My Soul' by artist Katherine Dawson, that is a laser etched in lead crystal glass of the artist's own MRI scan, at an exhibition call 'Brains -The Mind as Matter' at the Wellcome Collection in London, Tuesday, March, 27, 2012. The free exhibition is open to the public from March 29- June 17. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

 

Many of the exhibits were human remains and the advisory age was 14years + given the sensitive nature of some items. However, there were plenty of younger children in the gallery, which wasn’t a problem, although I noted some of kids looked like they were being primed very early for a career in medicine, and  hat they may have been happier,doing a post-mortem on a bit of road kill in the garden shed, with a junior hacksaw set, rather than having every detailed label read to them.

 

Whilst I was at ease with the human exhibits,  and fascinated by the craftsmanship, and beauty of centuries old moulage,  what I found deeply moving  were the sections of the exhibition given to over to both ‘giving and taking’.

Taking, the horror of the children  and adults murdered by the Nazis under a policy of euthanasia, some 120 000 people killed, those with apparent hereditary disease or deemed to be feeble in mind and body. The doctors who perpetrated such acts and then who then went on to have successful medical careers after the war, could only give rise to disgust.

Giving, the compassionate and telling photographic portraits  by Ania Dabrowska of those who had decided to donate their brain to medical science.  This brought very personal emotions, as my father in law who died earlier  this year left his body to medical science.

 

 

Albert Webb wearing a jumper he knitted himself, depicting his late dog Lucy.  Photo Ania Dabrowska

 

The exhibition is now closed, the book however isn’t and of course the mind, our magnificent, wondrous minds, should always be open. What could be more precious.

A thought provoking day.

 

*What I didn’t at first realise was that Katherine Dowson’s work was based on her own brain scan, part of a research project into dyslexia, her work on this subject, well, lets just say it speaks to me…

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Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

7 thoughts on “Headspanner

  1. Okay, that was super interesting and emotional. At first I thought…umm pass but no, super intriguing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am so impressed that he knit that himself. Wow.

  3. A really interesting, and informative, post. I shall have a good look at the links later on. xx

  4. I spent a long time looking at the link to Katherine Dowson’s dyslexia work. I know a surprising number of people with dyslexia, including a poet, a songwriter, and several visual artists. They have all found creative workarounds, and they all confronted enormous challenges during their schooldays. So thank you for that link.

    I wouldn’t have gone to that exhibit probably – I wouldn’t have been at ease with some of the displays of human remains. Oddly, the brain itself is not such a problem for me. I think in some strange nook in–well, in my brain I suppose!–I somehow think of it as separate from my flesh and blood self. There’s a thesis topic for some enterprising psychiatrist, eh?

    It crosses my mind that budding physicians would do better to participate in the old-time rituals of families preparing the body of a loved one for burial–the tender washing, combing, and communing–than to be read detailed labels . . .

    In any case, I have always found your posts on art and artists, including this one, well worth reading and thinking about for a long, long time.

    • Thank you Gerry: maybe it’s the brains bloodless appearance that helps. I’ll happily watch medical programs on TV, however if there is one bit that makes my toes curl it is the ‘opening up’ of the patient, once they are delving around inside that’s fine! I regret not going to the Body Worlds exhibition in Manchester a few years ago.

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