Facing Out came to Manchester Science Festival last week in the form of a two day conference which explored themes of the wider project within the inspirational setting of The Whitworth, the art gallery of the University of Manchester. Day one saw Eleanor Crook return to the gallery to deliver her outstanding facial anatomy workshop. I have been excited about Eleanor's collaboration with Facing Out since I took the same workshop last year when the fabulous Clod Ensemble brought it to Manchester. During the day I learnt the names and functions of the major facial muscles as one by one we made them, sculpting them in wax to be added onto a plaster cast of a skull.
Facing Out Day One drew together a lovely and diverse group of people which included medical practitioners, academics, artists, gallery professionals and theatre craftspeople. I opened the day by introducing the Facing Out project, showing a sneak preview of one of the project's portraits and talking about facial disfigurement due to cancer.
Eleanor brought along some models of the early reconstruction techniques developed by Sir Harold Gillies at Queen Mary's Hospital at Sidcup, where he worked with the unprecedented number of soldiers who were returning from the trenches of the First World War with facial injuries. His patients refereed to themselves as 'The Guinea Pig Club' as much of Gillies work involved the use of novel experimental surgical techniques. It was fascinating to see Eleanor's models which brought to life Gillie's black and white photographic images. They recorded the stages of pioneering forehead skin flap operations, a technique is still being used today, and is one which has been experienced by one of our 'Facing Out' portraiture subjects.
It is a remarkable workshop, not least because of Eleanor's depth of anatomical knowledge which she shares so generously, but also because of the humour, the fascinating asides and the storytelling that she weaves into the practical construction of each muscle. One comes away having learnt so much more that the anatomy of the face!
I would like to thank Eleanor Crook, Wendy Gallagher who, as Arts For Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth, facilitated the event. Thanks also to Dr Anne Marie Martindale whose research has fed into 'Facing Out' and who was instrumental in planning this event. Thanks to Caroline Johnson who made a beautiful drawing to record the day (that's for a future post!). Thanks also to our partners, University of Manchester's 'Engaging Our Communities' initiative, The Whitworth, Manchester Science Festival and Arts Council England.
Special thanks to all the participants whose enthusiasm and interest made this such an enjoyable day!