Julia Midgley, former Reader in Documentary Drawing at the Liverpool School of Art and Design has organised an exhibition to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Entitled ‘War, Art and Surgery’ the project juxtaposes surgeon-artist Henry Tonk’s stunning pastels of wounded servicemen with Julia Midgley’s contemporary reportage artwork representing the training of military medical personnel pre deployment and recovering military personnel post-surgery.
Henry Tonks (1862-1927) was a qualified surgeon and an artist producing artistic work and teaching at Slade School of Fine Art where he was a Professor of Drawing. In 1916-17 Tonks recorded the work of the surgeon Harols Gillies and his colleagues at Aldershot and Sidcup as they struggled to rebuild the shattered faces of some of the thousands of young men injured in battle. Tonks’ work is a powerful reminder of the devastating human toll of the Great War, and of the pioneering surgical innovations it spawned.
Some of the 72 works are single portraits; others combine to show the same patient at different stages of treatment. Many are shocking in their depiction of the terrible injuries suffered, but all are characterised by an astonishing sensitivity.
As a contemporary response to these powerful works, Julia Midgley has worked at the Army Medical Services Training Centre in York, and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court, Surrey. Drawings were also produced at the Royal College of Surgeons of England during the Military Operational Surgical Training course (M.O.S.T.) and TMW Brize Norton.
New drawings by Julia Midgley at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery
Saturday 28 June to Sunday 21 September 2014
The exhibition has been organized in partnership with the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons and has been supported by Arts Council England, the Sir James Knott Trust and Liverpool John Moores University.
The Royal College of Surgeons, London, is staging the exhibition War Art and Surgery from 14 October 2014 – 14 February 2015. Admission: Free
Visitors will have the rare opportunity to explore the relationship between war and surgery, past and present. With unprecedented access to military facilities, the artist Julia Midgley has created over 150 pieces of reportage artwork representing military surgeons in training and recently wounded soldiers on their road to recovery. Julia’s work will be exhibited alongside all 72 of the College’s striking pastels of wounded servicemen by surgeon-artist Henry Tonks from 1916-1918.
The War, Art and Surgery programme will also feature an exhibition of Julia’s work at the Durham Light Infantry Museum and Durham Art Gallery in Summer 2014 and a two-day conference ‘From Hunter to Helmand: Military Medicine Then and Now’ at the Hunterian Museum in November 2014.
Hunterian Museum, The Royal College of Surgeons, 35–43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE
Tuesday – Saturday 10am–5pm
Closed: Good Friday and Easter
The War Art and Surgery drawings will also be exhibited at the Durham Light Infantry Museum and Durham Art Gallery opening on June 28th 2014.
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