Medical Artists Association (MAA) Conference 2011 - blog entry!

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As I wrote so much about the 2011 MAA Conference I thought I better put it on its own page.

This year the event was held at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London. The day was well organised and varied in its content. After the welcome and a catch up with other medical artists over coffee we all got the opportunity to visit the Pathology Museum at St Barts'.

St Bartholomew's Hospital London's pathology museum

St Bartholomew's Hospital London's Pathology Museum

The St. Bartholomew's Pathology Museum was originally opened in 1879 at a time when photography was in its infancy so the only way for a doctor to record a medical condition was to employ an artist or draw it themselves. So at St. Bartholomew's medical students were taught how to draw pathological conditions as part of their training. The collection at St. Bartholomew's includes not only specimens dating back to even before the museum opened, but also artwork created to record the various medical conditions of London's population from 1819 to 1950.

Steve Moore who looks after the museum gave us a talk on the history and the future of the museum. They are looking to raise additional funds to ensure the survival of the collections many specimens for the future. After the interesting talk we got time to look at the collection, which is housed in an amazing room.

The photo to the right was snapped from the top of the third level, accessed by a spiral staircase.

Some stand out items included the artwork of T Godart (1821-1887) who was a librarian, medical artist, and photographer. His works that were on display included oil and watercolour paint and pencil. It was also sad to see the extent to which diseases were allowed to develop before action was taken, such was the low level of medical knowledge at the time. The collection is not open to the public so a special thanks for allowing us medical artists access.


Geoffrey Harrison - White Wing



Geoffrey Harrison - 'Autopoiesis'

Although not a medical artist, Geoff talked about his artwork and the influence that having two medical artists as parents have had.

Really interesting work with lovely pencil work on some and great use of colour on others. I will go and see some of his work in real life as some are over 6 foot high and seeing art on a projector isn't the best! You can get more information on his website





Familial Acromegaly: an ancient gene and beyond

The talk from Professor Marta Korbonits was on Familial Acromegaly: an ancient gene and beyond. This was a very interesting talk about this condition and the research into its causes by the professor and her colleagues. Growths in the pituitary gland cause either gigantism or enlarged growth of the extremities depending on the time of the onset. The research has shown a genetic link between cases and the professor and colleagues even tested DNA from Charles Byrne who's skeleton is in the Hunterian Museum, which I visited regularly during my study as a medical artist, at the Royal College of Surgeons. They have found a connection between the families of current patients and Charles Byrne. From the work they have done it indicates that the specific genetic change happened over one thousand years ago in Northern Ireland!

See a BBC Programme on the subject that features Professor Marta Korbonits

Tim Butler talk at MAA Conference

Tim giving his talk

Other Items

Following this talk, Tim Butler (from gave a talk to the assembled Medical Artists. It was great to see how we can help share our knowledge for the benefit of the whole profession. His talk was really well received so the time he took working late in the studio preparing was time well spent!


During coffee we had a talk on the joint project between the Medical Artists Association and the Royal College of Surgeons on the Olympic Exhibition: Anatomy of an Athlete. It is going to be an exciting exhibition, which will coincide with the London 2012 Olympics.

Royal College of Surgeons Logo

The Medical Artists Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in the next session before we all went out for dinner at the Bleeding Heart restaurant, which I would highly recommend for both the food and service!

Thanks goes to Phil Wilson for organising the day and to Phil Ball for the equipment / support.

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