Silvering the Cerebrum 

05/10/2015 00:00 
A new exhibition of art works by Dillwyn Smith at UCLH’s Street Gallery gives a unique insight into brain donation and techniques used in post mortem diagnostics and research.

Dillwyn Smith has been Artist in Residence at the Queen Square Brain Bank (QSBB) (UCL) since 2013, creating a new body of work entitled ‘Silvering the Cerebrum’ through observational drawing at QSBB and drawing from memory in his studio.

The exhibition, which runs until 18 November, shows Smith’s initial research and art work generated from the residency.  The new work uses contemporary methods in inks and dyes informed by the histopathology process. These works have been realised through juxtaposing analogue printing techniques, with state of the art modern methods in printing to create some truly unique artworks. 

Guy Noble, UCLH’s art curator, said: “Featuring silver point etchings, carborundum prints, large scale digital wall and silver-gilt artworks, the exhibition provides an insight into the aesthetics of science and human anatomy. 

“The scientists and researchers at QSBB believe Smith’s aesthetic sensibility and studies of dyeing techniques will provide alternative ways of thinking about the pathology of the brain, and highlight the important work of and continued need for brain banks.”

The interrelationship of science and art is not a new one, Smith has been influenced by the artist William Morris,  for example,  whose workshop and home was 26 Queen Square (1865 –1881, now the site of The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery) and who experimented and used aniline dyes when making his work. 

Histopathology involves the sectioning and staining of tissue so that cells can be examined under a microscope. The discovery of aniline dyes (stains) and their application within the scientific and artistic worlds over 100 years ago have led to the development of techniques in histological diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease and continue to be used today in everyday pathological practice. Smith draws on this scientific heritage, and the work or Morris to create an ambitious installation of colour, textures and experimental printing processes within UCH’s Street Gallery.
Silvering the Cerebrum is a project commissioned by UCLH Arts and Heritage and UCL Queen’s Square Brain Bank.

UCLH arts and heritage is the hospital arts project that serves UCLH NHS Foundation Trust and its surrounding community and is funded entirely by charitable donations and fundraising.  UCLH arts and heritage is committed to providing a welcoming, uplifting environment for all patients, visitors and staff through the use of a varied and stimulating arts and heritage programme. Its work aims to improve the patient experience, boost staff morale, increase engagement with the arts and celebrate the Trust’s unique heritage and community.

The Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders (QSBB) holds a unique archive of brains and tissue donated by individuals with neurodegenerative disease and neurologically normal controls. It specialises in parkinsonian movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy and holds the national collection of brains donated by individuals with progressive supranuclear palsy. The collection has been developed to include donated brains from prospectively studied people with familial dementias, in collaboration with the Dementia Research Group at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.  The QSBB also banks brains donated by people with dystonia.

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