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Tuesday to Saturday: 10am – 5pm

A black circle on a white background. In the centre of the circle is a horizontal blade.

Copyright: Elaine Duigenan 2010


The Dreadful and the Divine: A visual exploration of the surgical instrument

23rd September–23rd December 2010

Since becoming the Artist in Residence at the College I have become engrossed in the meaning of surgery as ‘hand-work’ and surgical instruments as an extension of a surgeon’s hands. My experimental image making reveals the intricate relationship between that which opens the body, and what puts it back together again.
Elaine Duigenan, 2010

This photography show explores contrasting connotations of historic surgical instruments - examining them as objects of both beauty and dread.

Photographic artist Elaine Duigenan goes beyond conventional documentary photography showcasing large, creative images of instruments from the Hunterian Museum - including forceps and amputation knives. Her use of innovative techniques, such as printing on mirror, invites the viewer to consider the tools simultaneously as objects of butchery and healing.

The exhibition is the culmination of Elaine's year-long Armamentaria project which began in September 2009. It consists of series’ and single images and a light installation projecting shadows of surgical tools on the gallery ceiling. It will also provide the public with an opportunity to view a set of amputation instruments from 1870.

Elaine is represented by Klompching in New York. In 2009 one of her photographs from her series 'Micro Mundi' was flown to The International Space Station on Shuttle Atlantis.

This exhibition has been funded by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award.

Armamentaria Project

September 2009 - September 2010

Armamentaria was an experimental project to visually unpack surgical instruments as material and metaphorical objects. Using photography, the artist Elaine Duigenan explored instruments’ contradictory status as the therapeutic extension of the surgeons’ hands and as objects designed to cut living tissue. It explored the symbolic associations of instruments and their physical properties, as crafted objects and the objects through which the body is crafted. Drawing on the rich historical collections of the Hunterian Museum and bringing together the expertise of surgeons, historians and instrument designers and manufacturers, it reanimated the instrument as a thing of beauty and dread.

During the project Elaine worked with John Kirkup FRCS and Mick Crumplin FRCS, the honorary curators of the Hunterian Museum's instrument collection. She also worked with instrument designers and manufacturers. Her work was be exhibited at the College during and after the project. Elaine's progress could be followed through her blog.

Armamentaria was funded by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award.