About the project

About the project

This blog documents the first phase of a collaborative visual arts project between artist Emma Hunter, Dr Philip Kilner of the Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Unit at Royal Brompton hospital (part of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust) and rb&hArts – the Trust’s charitable arts programme.

The project will focus on water-flow properties inherent in the structures and dynamics of the human heart and blood system.

This first phase, funded by the Wellcome Trust and devoted to research and development, will include workshops with medical students and with patients of the Trust, as well as the exchange of images and words you will see developing below. The outcome will be a series of works of art which poetically re-imagine the inner landscape of the human body. We hope it will invite audiences to make visual connections between our inner and outer landscapes; the micro and macro, and to consider the biomedical and ecological implications of these connections.

We aim to produce a catalogue to accompany a tour of this work in 2014, before it is hung permanently at Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Solve et Coagula - A series of seven cyanotypes


Solve et Coagula is the first series of works made in response to the Stream Research Project, it is a series of seven cyanotypes that explore the spiralling flow forms found in the heart muscle structure that are revealed by medical drawings and engravings.

The cyanotypes are an amalgamation of elements of suminagashi (a Japanese term literally translated as ink floated on water) and elements of the medical drawings which together poetically re-imagine the emerging muscle structure as a form which flickers between solidity and fluidity. The title, Solve et Coagula (translated from Latin as, dissolve and coagulate), is borrowed from alchemical terminology and describes a practice of turning solids to liquids and vice versa.

To create these works, drawings, which act as a photographic negative, were made on semi-transparent paper which was then laid over paper coated in a light sensitive chemical. The coated paper was then exposed to UV light and fixed with water. This low tech camera-less photography is a method of ‘painting with light’ to create a painting/drawing/photogram hybrid that echoes the much more sophisticated technology used to reveal the interior landscape of the body.

Unlike medical imagery from such technologies as MRI imaging, which seeks to make the body transparent, these watery forms emerging from the deep blue, endeavour to emphasise the beautiful mystery of the body’s interior and its structural connection with water flow forms ‘out there’ in nature.

Forthcoming workshop with cardiac patients

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Open Studio Weekend

Last weekend, Luneside Studios in Lancaster, where I am based, opened its doors to the public. This was the first time work from the Stream Project had been on public display. On show were a group of 16 suminagashi prints, the series of seven (almost) finished cyanotypes, some of the drawings which become the negatives for the cyanotype process and some of the sketches for the next series of work which will be a series of hanging 'scrolls'.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Workshop: Drawing flow 'out there' and 'in here'

at Water: Nature's Mediator Conference, Emerson College, 1st November 2013
This practical workshop took the form of three parts, firstly participants watched a demonstration of suminagashi and then made some of their own suminagashi prints. Secondly trays were filled with water, ink and mica dust to reveal the flow form patterns occurring within the body of water when it was disturbed by, for example, running a paintbrush through it. Drawings were made 'blind' in response to the patterns forming, participants were asked to use only their fingers dipped in graphite dust to mimic with drawn gesture some of the forms taking place in the water. The final part consisted of a meditation using simple mindfulness techniques to bring people into connection with a sense of the heart beat, rhythm, pulse and flow occurring within their own bodies. This was immediately followed by a drawing exercise which attempted to capture the essence of what participants experienced.
Demonstration of Suminagashi Technique
One of the participant's suminagashi before laying the paper on the water

Example of suminagashi
Example of suminagashi
Drawings being made in response to water patterns revealed by the mica dust

Drawings being made in response to water patterns revealed by the mica dust

Discussion around drawn responses to the mica dust experiments

Responses to the meditation on flow occurring within the body