Transience by Susan Aldworth | 2 April to 1 May, 2014

Susan Aldworth, Passing Thoughts 13, 2013, giclee print

Susan Aldworth, Passing Thoughts 13, 2013, giclee print


Susan Aldworth

at the Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, 5th Floor, Sherfield Building, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ

Exhibition from 2 April until 1 May 2014

Private View: Friday 4 April 2014, 5.30 – 8 pm, E-Invite

Gallery Talk: Susan Aldworth and Professor David Dexter, Tuesday 8 April 2014 5.30 – 6.30 pm

Those who donate their brains to science and art are silent and anonymous heroes, who selflessly and literally give of themselves for the greater well being of humanity. These works are portraits of three such people. Susan Aldworth 2014

This solo exhibition, Transience, presented by the Blythe Gallery at Imperial College London, includes ground-breaking work by the artist Susan Aldworth as she continues her investigations into the relationship between mind and body. Since 1999, Aldworth, an experimental print and film-maker who combines digital photography and state-of-the-art medical imagery in her work, has explored the depths of consciousness and the transience of self. Her persistent fascination with the physical brain has led to a new body of work which has evolved using techniques from the most traditional to the more radical, as shown in this exhibition. In Transience Aldworth explores the brain as matter and has made a suite of prints – a historical first – etching directly from human brain tissue.

Susan Aldworth has spent time in operating theatres and dissecting rooms, watching the most delicate medical procedures from which she has drawn inspiration — painting and sketching in a way similar to how we imagine the Old Masters discovered more about human anatomy. Her residency at the Royal London Hospital, where she observed brain scans and other digital imaging processes, has led to her focusing on the brain, which, for the last twelve years has been the starting point for much of her work. Adapting imagery from scans and EEGs, Susan Aldworth has sought to picture this idea of self, and to give us illuminating visual metaphors for the unfathomable mysteries of human consciousness.(Gill Saunders, Senior Curator (Prints) Victoria & Albert Museum. Catalogue: Susan Aldworth The Portrait Anatomised 2013).

Aldworth has further explored the relationship between the self and the physical brain by working on a series of challenging portraits of people with dementia, schizophrenia, epilepsy and Down’s Syndrome. This exhibition, which follows on from The Portrait Anatomised, her recent display at the National Portrait Gallery, London, takes portraiture into new territory.

Aldworth has developed unique methodologies and has worked with two of the most eminent printmakers in this country, Stanley Jones and Nigel Oxley. Oxley has long been a collaborator, experimenting with etching techniques which have pushed the boundaries of this medium to new limits. Aldworth wanted to explore the brain as an object.

Could I translate the physicality of the brain into an artwork? It would be the ultimate portrait of someone – made from the authentic marks of the physical brain itself.

In partnership with David Dexter, Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank at Imperial College, Aldworth and Oxley developed a technique whereby they could capture the authentic marks of the brain on an etching plate. Working with a human brain was a transformative and emotional experience; the images revealed themselves gradually through this very ancient process and the prints, although taken from a cross-section, unexpectedly seemed to expose a consciousness at work. Passing Thoughts, the digital prints of the brain which are also included in this show, were serendipitous – they captured a transient image which existed momentarily and then disappeared like a thought.

Professor Dexter whose research focuses on Parkinson’s disease, has worked with various artists to generate artwork which can demystify the brain, encourages dialogue on brain research and also inspires tomorrow’s scientists. This is not only visually stimulating but can also help to breakdown scientific barriers. The brain is surrounded by mystery, with many of its functions and processes not being known, whilst visually it has a stunning architecture and beauty. David Dexter is a Professor of Neuroscience within the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College.

Susan Aldworth is an artist working primarily with portraiture using print, film, drawing, photography and collage. She has held residencies at the Gordon Museum of Pathology and the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and holds a Research fellowship at Swansea Metropolitan University. Aldworth has exhibited and lectured internationally and her work is held in public and private collections, including the V & A, The British Museum and The Wellcome Collection Library. She is represented by GV Art, London.

Martin Beney