The Medical Artists’ Association Conference 2011

Posted: 15th April 2011-Likes: 0-Comments: 0-Categories: News, Work
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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 St. Bartholomew’s Pathology Museum.

The St. Bartholomew’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.
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.

Professor Marta Korbonits – 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!

Tim Butler’s – Developing the Business Acumen for the Professional Medical Artist
Tim Butler from Medical-Artist.com gave a talk to the assembled Medical Artists. The talk was giving business advise to the medical art students. This involved topics such as the importance of treating yourself as a micro business and having a system in place such as licensing agreements, templates for invoicing, a bookeeper so that accounts could be submitted for tax returns and general advise on how to market yourself as a sole trader. Tim felt it was important that artists valued their profession and encouraged artists to market and promote themselves as much as possible. Its key that artists are found by medical agencies and publishers in order to secure commissions and to become a self supportive medical artist.
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.

End of the Conference 

The Medical Artists Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) was completed 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 and support.

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