‘About Face’ Exhibition

The Centre for Medical Humanities is delighted to announce the opening of an exhibition, About Face, held in partnership with the Durham Light Infantry Museum Art Gallery from the 5th May -24th June 2012.

The exhibition will feature a display of works by the surgeon artist Henry Tonks. Tonks (1862 – 1937) was a qualified surgeon and an artist, practising and teaching medicine but also producing artistic work and teaching at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he was Professor of Drawing. During the First World War, he initially joined the Royal Army Medical Corps but then, from April 1916, worked with Dr Harold Gillies at his plastic surgery unit at the Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot. This work then moved to a specially dedicated unit at the Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, where Gillies and his team developed pioneering approaches to facial injuries sustained by soldiers at the front. The pastel drawings by Tonks in this exhibition date from this period and starkly document and illustrate these facial injuries and the progress of surgical interventions. Tonks’ drawings not only serve as a record of the physical injuries and subsequent medical interventions but, by crossing into the field of portraiture, highlight some of the personal and emotional cost of these wounds and reveal Tonks’ skill as an artist. This is the largest loan of his works from the Royal College of Surgeons to date.

You are warmly invited to attend the launch of the exhibition on Friday 4 May, 6-8pm at the Gallery.  There will be a further three special evening events in connection with the exhibition:

Thursday 10th May: A reading by the novelist Pat Barker from her new novel about Henry Tonks.

Wednesday 30th May: ‘Portraiture and Suffering’, Ludmilla Jordanova, Professor of Modern History, Kings College, London.

Thursday 21st June: ‘The Face of War: Figuring Empathy in Pat Barker’s Life Class’,Anne Whitehead, Newcastle University.

These events will take place at the DLI and be followed by a wine reception. All are welcome. For more information, please download the About Face Flyer

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