Joint Research Office


Silvering the Cerebrum exhibition at UCLH

29 September 2015

A new art exhibition at UCLH is set to give a unique insight into brain donation and techniques used in post mortem diagnostics and research.

Dillwyn Smith, Artist in Residence at the Queen Square Brain Bank (QSBB), used observational drawing at QSBB and drawing from memory to create the exhibition 'Silvering the Cerebrum' at the UCLH Street Gallery.

The exhibition features Smith's initial research and art whilst artist in residency.  His new work uses contemporary methods in inks and dyes informed by the histopathology process of staining tissue. The works juxtapose analogue printing techniques with state of the art methods.  

Smith has been influenced by the artist William Morris, whose workshop and home was 26 Queen Square during 1865-1881, now the site of The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, and who experimented and used aniline dyes (stains). 

Histopathology involves the sectioning and staining of tissue so that cells can be examined under a microscope. The discovery of aniline dyes and their application within the scientific and artistic worlds over 100 years ago have led to the development of techniques in histological diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease. 

Guy Noble, UCLH's Art Curator, said: "Featuring silver point etchings, carborundum prints, large scale digital wall and silver-gilt artworks, the exhibition provides an insight into the aesthetics of science and human anatomy.  The scientists and researchers at QSBB believe Smith's aesthetic sensibility and studies of dyeing techniques will provide alternative ways of thinking about the pathology of the brain, and highlight the important work of and continued need for brain banks."

Silvering the Cerebrum is commissioned by UCLH Arts & Heritage and QSBB, a unique archive of brains and tissue donated by individuals with and without neurodegenerative disease.