I am in Dundee! As a visiting artist for two weeks at CAHID, the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at Dundee University I am indulging my fascination for all things anatomical. I am here primarily to give a presentation and run a drawing workshop for the MA Medical Art and Forensic Art students, and this year we will be joined by members of IMI the Institute of Medical Illustators, but I will also be spending time making my own drawings in the Theil Cadaver Facility. Dundee is the only facility in the UK where cadavers are embalmed in this way and therefore I am very happy to have this unique opportunity. In the words of the CAHID website:

Sadly, although very understandably, Scottish law forbids me to publish here any of my drawings that have been done directly from donated bodies so I cannot post any images just yet. Instead I am posting a drawing that I made some time ago as part of a project I was working on at the University of Texas Medical Branch anatomy department in Galveston. The image is of an ‘exploded skull’ which was a very old specimen and created in an extraordinary way using dry beans which where packed into the skull and then the whole thing soaked. As the beans took up the water and swelled to double their size the 22 separate bones of the skull were forced to disarticulate. The concept of the exploded skull was given us by Leonardo da Vinci in his anatomical drawings but its usefulness¬† was maximised in the mid-1800s French anatomist Claude Beauchene. Beauchene developed a method of mounting the separate bones on a stand designed to exhibit them at once individually and in context.



exploded skull drawing made in UTMB Galveston Anatomy Department


an original Beauchene skull

The drawings I am making here in Dundee are of a similar nature to those I worked on in Galveston and I will be using them back in the studio in Cardiff, along with the work I was doing in the Hunterian museum at Glasgow University early last year (see previous posts) to develop work for a future exhibition entitled ‘The Quick, the Dead and the Anatomised’.