Sculpting Surgery with Eleanor Crook / by Lucy Burscough

Please be aware that this article contains photographs of simulations of facial surgery.

The models pictured below were made at a workshop with the brilliant anatomical sculptor Eleanor Crook. The workshop took place in the Gordon Museum in the Kings College Guy's Campus, London. The museum houses some fascinating historical anatomical wax sculptures and so it was the perfect setting to learn more about the techniques employed to make them. The operation that was to be illustrated was a forehead skin flap operation which was famously developed by surgeon Harold Gillies during WW1 at Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup. These operations were documented in pastel drawings by Henry Tonks. You can see the drawings and read more about Gillies and Tonks here.

Eleanor delivered a fantastic workshop which recognised the bravery of the soldiers who were living with devastating facial injuries and celebrated the ingenuity and courage of surgeons dealing with so many traumatic wounds, thinking on their feet and developing and honing novel techniques in response. Eleanor went on to discuss the impact on society of the return of so many disfigured soldiers and how that was reflected in the art that was created at the time, by artists like Otto DIX, Georg Grosz and Able Gance, political anti-war statements that condemned the horrors war but were perhaps not so sympathetic to the soldiers themselves. 


I am so grateful to have been allowed to participate in the workshop that was designed for medical illustrators. It was a real pleasure to get to spend time with a group of women with such an interesting range of specialisms. You can see Eleanor's fantastic work here.