Tag Archives: War Requiem and Aftermath

The Art of Surgical Practice

CCW PhD student Jenny Wright is giving a talk with her clinical supervisor Neil Shah on ‘The Art of Surgical Practice’ as part of the War Requiem and Aftermath events at Somerset House on 19 May at 5pm.

Wright is an artist whose work involves collaborative practice with surgeons, medical students and scientists. She is studying the haptic nature of drawing and medical practice and collaborates with Neil Shah, Senior Fellow of the Head and Neck Optical Diagnostics and Intervention Society. Mr Shah is a consultant oral & maxillofacial surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and his research interests include the relationship between art, anatomy and surgery.

pencil drawing of a tumour removed from a neck showing incision marks, 12 x 12 cm, Jenny Wright

pencil drawing of a tumour removed from a neck showing incision marks, 12 x 12 cm, Jenny Wright

Discussing her contribution to the talk, Wright said, ‘I have been researching drawing practices with surgeons for some years, initially for an MA and now for a PhD at CCW. As part of my research I have been working closely with maxillofacial, dental and ophthalmic surgeons, and I found that drawing is a common practise for rehearsal, preparation and record keeping in all these surgical specialties.

From making drawings during operations and many discussions with surgeons I became interested in finding ways in which drawing and surgical practices could be integrated to develop and support key skills useful in extending areas of medical education, as well as be part of my fine art practice. Mr Neil Shah is a consultant maxillofacial surgeon who first trained as a dentist. It was through him that I was introduced to the work of dental surgeons at Kings College. Kings College Dental Institute combines practical clinical training with a virtual learning system called hapTEL, which I was allowed to integrate into some of my research.

Wright 3

Studio work analysis of movements made by surgeon, suturing sumi ink on paper, 45 x 55 cm, Jenny Wright


As part of the cultural events around Maggi Hambling: War Requiem and Aftermath, Mr Shah and I were invited to give a talk about the dialogue we have developed using drawing as a research and educational tool with particular reference to facial reconstruction. We will be discussing how drawings can be used and made in theatre. I will be showing some of the images I made of head and neck operations that record surgical interventions. These will include common surgical practices used in removal of tumours and reconstruction of facial features.

Although the talk is primarily aimed at medics, due to the nature of some of the images that may be shown, this is a great opportunity to continue and develop work across disciplines and between research departments in different Universities.’

As the Gordon Museum is not open to the general public, access to this event is restricted to certain groups on production of an appropriate ID card, which includes Medical Public (ie the suitably qualified or those in training). Full details can be found here. If unsure, please contact sophie.cornell@kcl.ac.uk. This is a special opportunity to join experts in the fields of surgery and art in the unique setting of the Gordon Museum of Pathology at King’s, to include a guided tour of this extraordinary collection from Museum Curator Bill Edwards.

Top image: from theatre sketchbook analysis of scalpel marks on neck made during op on carotid tumour, pencil on paper, 12 x 15 cm, Jenny Wright