The Pathology of BODY WORLDS Vital

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Collaborative public engagement project funded by the Royal College of Pathologist and supported by the Centre For Life

BODY WORLDS Vital made its UK debut at Newcastle’s Centre For Life in 2014, displaying Dr Gunther Von Hagen’s plastinated human bodies exploring the physiology of human health and wellness. As a visual artist and researcher of anatomy and human sciences residing in the city, this presented the perfect opportunity to consolidate my experiences of science communication thus far, and propose innovative ways of engaging Life visitors with one of the most controversial human exhibitions of all time. A calling some would say, having spent the past 3 years researching anatomical sciences and spending most of my working week inside the anatomy lab or engrossed in the study of disease, illness, decomposition and death

Through the collective work of myself as visual artist and 3 local histopathologists, The Pathology of BODY WORLDS Vital we fused art and science engagement, inviting exhibition visitors to explore what the bodies can teach us about disease through histopathology; the examination of human tissue in order to study the manifestations of disease, using sophisticated microscopes and a clinically trained eye. The project was been funded by the Royal College of Pathologist thorough their Public Engagement Innovation Grant Scheme and generously supported by the Centre For Life. The aims of the project and culminating public events were to primarily engage exhibition visitors with the practice of histopathogy as it relates to the diseases exhibited in BODY WORLDS Vital, raise awareness of disease as both a scientific study and human experience, and most importantly, develop science communication skills of pathologists and awareness of the wider science engagement community. We envisaged that The Pathology of BODY WORLDS Vital would focus on both microscopic (cellular) and macroscopic (gross examination) approaches to histopathology. Myself as artist and the histopathologists illustrated information on, and generate discussions about, the journey of human tissue in pathology from retrieval to observation to diagnosis to medical research, and it was explored in its scientific, clinical and personal context, the microscope, the patient body, the diagnosis to generate awareness of its breadth of application and importance to everyday health.

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