Tuesday 22 August 2017

Artist exhibits prints of human brain to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease

Artwork created by Susan Aldworth printed directly from slices of human brains
Artwork created by Susan Aldworth printed directly from slices of human brains

Artwork printed directly from slices of human brains forms part of an exhibition aiming to raise awareness of the need for brain donation and research into Parkinson's disease.

Artist Susan Aldworth was invited into Hammersmith Hospital to observe a brain dissection at the Parkinson's UK Brain Bank.

She was then given permission to print directly from three human brains, including those from donors with and without Parkinson's disease, in what is thought to be a world-first.

It is hoped that her work will increase public awareness of the need for neuro-pathological research. Parkinson's disease remains incurable and brain donors are in short supply.

The contemporary exhibition, Realisation, is housed at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

It was made possible by David Dexter, who is professor of neuropharmacology at Imperial College London and the scientific director of Parkinson's UK Brain Bank at Hammersmith Hospital, who collaborated with Ms Aldworth on the project.

The printing had to be carried out under strict supervision and according to ethical guidelines that preserved the specimens from damage and protected their potential for further medical research.

Dr Dexter said: "You don't go about demystifying the brain by locking it away in a laboratory, but by appropriately involving it in widely accessible media, like art, which has a significant role to play in science as a tool for communicating to the public what the scientist sees in the laboratory, in a form that can be understood by everyone."

Ms Aldworth said of her work: "If you look at these prints and then close your eyes you will feel their force as self-portraits.

"I wanted to evoke the living, rather than the dead."

The exhibition, which runs until February 5, also includes hand-drawn images by Jane Dixon.

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