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Glass artist Andrea Spencer partners with Queen’s University’s Anatomy Department to create new work

Monday 16th September 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Visual Arts

Pictured (L-R) are Mr Ian K Walsh, Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education, artist, Andrea Spencer and Joanna Johnston, Arts Council. Image: Pictured (L-R) are Mr Ian K Walsh, Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education, artist, Andrea Spencer and Joanna Johnston, Arts Council.

Glass artist, Andrea Spencer, was recently supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, through the Artists’ Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) , a fund which enables artists to take that all-important, vital, next step in their artistic careers by developing a new body of work.  Andrea used the award to learn new skills and create a new body of work through her partnership with Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education.

Artist, Andrea Spencer, commented,

“Through the ACES award I was able to develop new glass making skills by going on a casting course at Northlands Creative  and also being able to work with the scientific glass blowers at Queen’s University. Through my partnership with the university’s Anatomy Department I was able to have regular access into the department and to engage with the students whilst they were going through the process of cadaver dissection, which inspired this new body of work.  I also had the opportunity to work closely with medical students and use the arts to enhance their medical practice and education; an endeavor that was very well received by all.”  

Andrea worked alongside Mr Ian K Walsh on the, Human Beings Being Human Project, an initiative established by Queen’s University medical school which explores and fosters the humanistic aspects of medical education and practice. Their work together has been largely based around anatomical pursuits and visual art.  It involves getting groups of interested students together to discuss their interest in the arts and to see how that aligns with their medical practice.  From this students created representative artwork which looked at ECGs (electrocardiogram) of people who have had terminal events; they also considered aspects of medical care, suffering and humanity using artistic methods. 

Mr Ian K Walsh, Clinical Academic Urologist and Senior Lecturer, Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education, commented,

“There are probably about ten percent of students in any given year, at undergraduate level, that are artistically creative by nature and they feel that they have to give their artistic pursuits up to pursue a career in medicine.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s exactly the type of thing that we want to foster and having the established artist, Andrea Spencer here within the department and at the school has been seminal in getting that idea across.  It’s been a very positive move for the medical school.”

Joanna Johnston, Visual Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council’s ACES programme supports serious career artists and gives them the ability to be more aspirational in their practice area through working alongside a partner organisation who gives them mentorship support over one year.   Through her partnership with Queen’s University anatomy Department, Andrea was introduced to a completely different approach of scientific glass blowing which she has been able to apply to create a new portfolio of work.  This will enable her to apply to some of the top craft galleries nationally and internationally which will be really beneficial for her future career development.”   

Keep up to date with Andrea Spencer’s work at


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