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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 23:52 GMT 00:52 UK
'My neck scan inspired my art'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News Health Reporter

Science has been the inspiration for Pauline's artwork

Ever since she hurt her neck while a student, artist Pauline Pratt has been fascinated by the world of science and medicine.

Now she is undertaking a 10-month residency at the University of Southampton in their School of Medicine exploring the relationship between art and science and using her experiences to create new work.

During her time in the laboratory Pauline will learn how to use the sophisticated microscopes, grow cell cultures, watch their growth and mobility and record them using video and digital technology.

Pauline said: "While I was doing my BA I had a prolapsed disc in my neck and it really was a cathartic moment.

"Using my art was a way of trying to understand and have some control over the injury. I acquired my scans and they became the basis for work during my BA."


From working with her own scan pictures Pauline, who has no science background, experimented with anonymous scans of other people's injuries.

Pauline said: "This project is a fantastic opportunity and will have a major impact on the way my work develops in the future.
It has been a complete learning curve
Pauline Pratt

"As an artist, I am fascinated with the place where the body's internal landscape meets the persona presented to the world.

"It has been a complete learning curve. I am interested in working with the researchers who have all been very generous with their time."

The residency is being funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, which aims to bring artists into research or study environments where creative arts are not part of the normal activities.


Professor Tim Elliott, of the Cancer Sciences Division, who along with clinical scientists Dr Anton Page, instigated the residency, said he was delighted that Pauline was to join the laboratory.

"I think it is easy to see how the visual arts draw on science as a source of imagery but it is less easy to see how art feeds back into science," he said.

"Because both are hugely creative pursuits, I'm hoping that the scientists in my lab will get as much out of working with Pauline as she will out of becoming an expert in tissue culture."

He said that because the laboratory dealt with a wide range of cell cultures there would be plenty of material for Pauline to work with.

"The idea is that she spends as much of her time as she wants in the lab.

"She is going to be spending time rubbing shoulders with scientists and I am interested in finding out how that relationship works.

"It is not easy to see what we get out of it other than the thrill of having an artist in the lab, but it will expand the scientists' horizons and I am heartened that the dialogue has started.

Dr Page said the laboratory had a number of sophisticated microscopes which will be available to Pauline including a confocal laser scanner, which is a microscope which uses a laser to illuminate and fluoresce.

"We have lots of research coming in from across the university and we do diagnostic work for our trust as well. We process it and look at it under the microscopes.

"We get images from these microscopes all the time and some of them are very striking, but up until now they have only had a small number of people who have been able to see them.

"We have always felt that we are at the intersection of art and the sciences because we pick up such interesting images. Now we will get a wider audience for our work."

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