Just to let you know that I have launched today the new project site for Cancer Ward 12

I am very happy that this project has finally got off the ground as I have been thinking about it for a long time! I will begin the artist in residency part of it on November 14th and I will be blogging on the site throughout the life of the project. Please take a look then, and as always, any comments and/or feedback would be very welcome.


Drawing Women's Cancer

Breast Cancer; a creative intervention exhibition official launch on November 8th.

This is a polite reminder about the launch of the Breast Cancer: a creative intervention exhibition on November 8th. (venue details below). I hope that if you can you will come and join us.

I’m delighted to confirm that the Lord Mayor of Cardiff will be officially opening the exhibition and we also have a professional Welsh harpist who has generously agreed to play for us on the evening. It all kicks off at 6pm and welcome from the Lord Mayor will be around 6.30.

OrielyrAelwyd : The HeARTh Gallery, Ground Floor Plaza Entrance, University Hospital, Llandough, Penlan Road, Llandough, Cardiff CF64 2XX

BC poster-page-001

The exhibition will continue throughout November and there will be accompanying events that offer information about breast cancer and care services as well as first hand Macmillan Cancer volunteer support. We hope to attract visitors to…

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Its been a good first week, a very busy week and one that has afforded me  a rich opportunity to reflect on my practice in a very intensive way.  It has also brought a  complete change in the way I am working. Here, I am sitting mostly alone in the dissection room poring over small scale intricate drawings, whereas over the last few months back in my studio in Cardiff I have been working on large scale drawings and oil paintings to prepare for the Breast Cancer: a creative intervention exhibition. The difference in practical terms is stark,  but the sense of immersion in the work is the same, if not intensified, here in Dundee as when I am alone I find I can enter depths of myself that general life often dictates I should bridge. Moreover, the feeling of being so welcomed within an environment where the science behind what I do as an artist is so ‘palpable’ is  exciting and inspirational. It’s also very interesting in relation to the differences between the science lab and the hospital wards and theatres that I work in.

I am teaching here too. Running the life drawing classes and joining in on the ‘crits’ with students on the MSc Forensic and Medical Art courses is a pleasure and a great experience. It is a valuable challenge to adapt my way of teaching to address what the students need most. It helps of course that they are keen and willing to learn. In the image below thats me at the back – drawing on the wall!


I am staying in Broughty Ferry, a small coastal  town just outside the city and it has become for me  very special place. Being by the water is always very evocative for me but that’s another, longer story! For now I simply  offer the image here (taken from the window of my rented flat) of the sunset that I came home to yesterday evening.




There’s that smell again

Familiar to me now

not the smell of Death so much as of lives once been

Remnants steeped in Thiel fluid

the smell of life deconstructed

Number [—-]

A head torn from the vertebrae

Mouth agape as if gulping a final breath

Skin flayed from the mandible

Eyeless sockets that still see me

plead to be once more hidden under the plastic shroud


I am cold

It is cold in here

The remnant of his eyebrow expresses such pathos

Defying recourse to objectivity

to cold death

My drawing begins to change

I pull back the plastic shroud even further

ignoring entreaty

I’m happy to be back up in Scotland! I am teaching some life drawing classes with the students on the Medical Art program at CAHID, University of Dundee, and once again I am taking advantage of the wonderful opportunity to make some of my own work in the dissecting lab and the morgue. It’s good to be back – I always receive a warm welcome from the folk at CAHID and although I am still working hard up here the different focus I think is good for me.

I have spent the last few intensive months completing the work for the Breast Cancer: a creative intervention exhibition (details here Drawing Women’s Cancer) It has been wonderful to work on the project, and it is creating a lot of interest which I will continue to foster beyond the show itself. In the meantime I  am looking forward to the opening on November 8th.

Back now to the present I have just spent a fascinating day in the lab working on ink drawings of an opened chest. It is a still a slightly strange feeling to come out into the sunshine (yes, I am in Scotland!) after hours poring over a cadaver but I think that is healthy.  I would definitely worry about myself if I ever became ‘used’ to it.  My approach to my work is from an autoethnogaphic perspective and it is therefore a wonderful creative challenge to be in such a scientific environment and it suits me well. For me, the juxtaposition of working with the living, as I do in my other projects in medicine, and working with the dead, as I do at CAHID, only deepens my conviction that the relationship between art and science with respect to the ‘human condition’ overall is profound and it is one I intend to continue exploring and articulating through my work.

Sadly Scottish law does not permit me to publish any of the drawings I make at CAHID here. All the work I do however will inform a major body of work based on anatomy that I am steadily preparing back at my studio. One of the pieces is a 2.5m long oil painting based on the historical practice of anatomical dissection. It is still very much a work in progress and the image here is a small detail.



Here is the official poster/invitation for the Breast Cancer:a creative intervention exhibition launch on November 8th. I very much look forward to meeting those of you who will be able to attend. For those who cannot I will be posting images of all the work on this site once the show opens.This project is has become immensely important to me and the show is the culmination of many hours of work. For me however it is more a beginning than a conclusion as the Drawing Women’s Cancer project as a whole continues to develop.

This exhibition would have been impossible to realise without the support of all the women and medical staff I have worked with over the past months, and so my sincere thanks to them all. Further, without any official funding, the exhibition  would have been very difficult to realise but for the generosity of those of you who have supported my work and gave to my Just Giving appeal. Once again, my thanks. bc-poster-page-001

Please join us for the opening of 
Contrasts: Two Interpretations of Antigua, Guatemala
a collaboration between Jac Saorsa and Luis Fernando Noriega. 

Official Opening:
Thursday 8th September 2016, 18:30- 20:30
Waterloo Tea, Wyndham Arcade

The exhibition will run from 6th September until 3rd October in our Wyndham Arcade location.
“This exhibition will fully realise the affinity between art and photography, 
where both are conceived as discrete art forms in themselves, 
yet at the same time they are interrelated processes of visual exploration.”– Jac Saorsa, 2016
 Wyndham Arcade
The Hayes
CF10 1FH 


I’ve just posted over on the Drawing Women’s Cancer site some new drawings from the operating theatre as part of the Breast Cancer: a creative intervention project. Click the link below to view them, along with the rest of the project as it progresses.


The Studies for a Portrait exhibit is now closed, however for the first time I am putting up some works from the show for sale here on my website. I am hoping to raise money to fund the development of the Drawing Women’s Cancer project which is ongoing and will generate a major exhibition in November at the Hearth Gallery at Llandough hospital here in Cardiff. I am working at present on three large scale oil portraits for this project and accompanying drawings. You can find more details on the project website.

All the pieces below are from the Studies for a Portrait show. All are executed with graphite, they are signed and beautifully framed in black wood. Average size for the pieces is A3 (210 x 420mm). The price for each piece is £200 (excluding delivery)

If you are interested in purchasing any of these works please contact me: jacsaorsa@hotmail.com


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Just got the news yesterday that I have a small amount of funding to carry out a project that is close to my heart and I have been thinking about for ages! I am of course delighted that I’ll finally be able to realise Cancer Ward 12 working at Singleton Hospital in Swansea. Work is now set to begin in November this year with an exhibition scheduled for June 2017. More details later but for now here is a brief summary of the idea.

Cancer Ward 12 draws on literature (The Cancer Ward, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, pub. 1967) and on life. It is a project that, as a discrete piece of research in its own right, carried out at Singleton hospital in Swansea, has enormous potential to further develop into a comparative study. There are two parts:

The first part involves my ‘immersion’ into the day-to-day life on the Oncology Ward of Singleton Hospital, which is a thirty bed, general oncology/haematology ward where patients with a variety of cancers and disease related symptoms are treated and cared for.  Working directly with consenting patients and their family members/carers, and with health professionals and hospital staff I will document what I see and experience through drawing and written narrative. I will use a ‘narrative medicine’ approach to gather individual experiences of illness, and of different forms of giving and receiving treatment.

The second part of the project will involve developing all the notes and sketches made on site as a basis for creating a substantial a body of work  for public exhibition.

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