I’ve had a good day today. A very good day.
I made my daily schlep through to Dundee (from Edinburgh, which isn’t as fun as you might think when you need to make it in to classes for 9am). I had grand plans of plonking myself down in the workshop and making up some metal work samples, but ended up going along to a lecture by Patrick Ian Hartley instead.
I’ll admit it, I had no idea who he was, although it had been mentioned in tutorials last week that he was coming along to lecture and that he did some very interesting work in facial corsetry. Friends on my course had poked me to go along because they thought I’d find it interesting. And I did. I kind of fell in love, just a teensy bit…
Patrick specializes in bespoke Face Corsets, facial garments, apparel, artifact, and masks. He has designed and created facial attire for Lady Gaga, shot by iconic British fashion photographer Nick Knight and featured by the internationally renowned SHOWstudio. His designs have been showcased in leading fashion publications styled by Simon Foxton, Jonathan Kaye and Panos Yiapanis.
His work certainly striking, but what really captured my interest was Project Facade. Project Facade is considered a landmark science/art collaborative project combining and interpreting elements of surgical, social and military history with a contemporary art making process. The outcome of Paddy’s Project Facade has been to bring the untold histories of WWI servicemen treated for horrific facial injuries to a broad national and international audience.
The project evolved from his work on Bioglass facial implants which triggered his interest in facial reconstructive surgery. His research led him to the Gillies Archives, which was at one time considered most complete archive of medical notes from the Great War in the world. The archives are home to over 2500 medical records made by pioneering facial surgeon Sir Harold Gillies of the Commonwealth servicemen he and his surgical team treated for horrific facial injuries sustained in battle.Calling on the skills of artists, photographers and sculptors in the documentation and pre-operative planning for surgeries, Gillies brought together specialists in bone graft and skin grafting, dental surgeons and technicians. Not to mention pioneering many facial reconstructive techniques. Gillies and his team treated over 5000 servicemen and it is considered that he advanced the discipline of plastic surgery by 50 years thanks to the developments made in the treatment of so many patients in such a short period of time.
Hartley’s goal was to make work, which would translate the medical records of a selection of Gillies patients, and to conduct research into their pre and post operative lives. Where the medical records describe the multiple surgeries the servicemen underwent, very little is known about the servicemen themselves and how they went on to live the rest of their lives after receiving such horrific injuries and groundbreaking surgery. Vintage uniforms would act as canvas and embroidery as the means of combining and communicating newly discovered information about the men. The fabric and stitch of the uniforms related directly to the skin, tissue and stitch Gillies with which Gillies worked.
It’s really powerful, moving stuff. For those of you who would like to find out more, please visit www.paddyhartley.com .