Making Beauty R&D

Research and Development project funded by Small Arts Award from Wellcome Trust, 2014-2015

Making Beauty is collaboration between artist Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, scientist Dr Richard Day and clinician Professor Alastair Forbes, with their associates at University College London (UCL), the University of East Anglia (UEA) and others. The project aims to explore and expose highly regarded medical research activity to larger public awareness – considering nutrition, healthy diet, our gut and how highly specialised, invisible to the eye, manufactured parts can fix problems. The works will balance the fragility of our bodies, and reflect on the delicate nature of these new medical components.

Exploring current research into regenerative medicine and bowel function, Hadzi-Vasileva is developing new works, which use biomedical materials that are still being developed. These include biological and synthetic biodegradable glass scaffolds, which replace tissue removed for clinical purposes. This develops and extends Hadzi-Vasileva’s established approach of using caul fat and other animal organs in her artwork to considering particular human body parts we sometimes would rather forget. By working closely with medical researchers, observing and discussing the impact of their research on patients and students, Elpida will use and borrow models of innovative therapeutic devices such as microscopic sphere-based scaffold and drug encapsulation/ delivery technology to inform the new work. These prototype spheres are intended to improve healing while the prototype scaffolds are for example, used to restore continence to the sphincter muscle.

Concurrently Elpida has been shadowing Gastroenterology clinical staff in wards and outpatient clinics at Norwich Medical School at University of East Anglia to understand the critical impact of nutrition on patients, the difference between healthy and unhealthy guts, the role of bacteria, those with various bowel disease and intestine failure, either as an illness or self-inflicted. In addition Professor Forbes has introduced a further partnership between Elpida and Professor Robin Spiller at The University of Nottingham and his colleagues at Nottingham University Hospital where she has been observing research into Inflammatory Bowel Disease using novel magnetic resonance image techniques and interviewing patients to understand their history of symptoms, medical history and the impact and effect of long term living and control of severe IBS. This has also introduced Elpida to Motilent Ltd and their innovative use of MRI images to develop improved motility analysis.

The new work brings cutting edge medical research into new devices together with personal, individual experiences of bowel failure and dysfunction.

Downloads: Making Beauty (pdf)