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Marking surgical advancements in military rehabilitation at new exhibition hosted at the RCS

14 Oct 2014

Today the RCS opens its doors to the public to view the new War, Art and Surgery exhibition at the Hunterian museum. The exhibition tells the story of military surgery and the rehabilitation of injured servicemen and women through art and will be hosted at the RCS until 14 February 2014.

For the first time in the UK, this exhibition displays all 72 pieces of Tonks’ artwork juxtaposing the surgical rehabilitation of servicemen from WW1, treated by plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, alongside the contemporary work of Julia Midgley.  She depicts military surgery and service personnel injured in Afghanistan, as well as the training of military surgeons.  Both artists depicted injured servicemen and women that they had met and observed.

This exhibition is the first in a series of work around military rehabilitation and surgery produced by The Royal College of Surgeons. The following activities will be taking place over October and November:

  • The launch of War, Art and Surgery: The Work of Henry Tonks & Julia Midgley, Edited by Samuel JMM Alberti, Director of Museum -  now available on Amazon;
  • ‘From Hunter to Helmand: Military medicine then and now’ conference taking place between 14-15 November 2014 at The Royal College of Surgeons.

Please take a look here for further information about our series of work on military rehabilitation.

Sam Alberti, Director of the Hunterian Museum, The Royal College of Surgeons said:

“War, Art and Surgery explores the crucial role played by military medics, past and present.

“Using unique artwork by Henry Tonks and Julia Midgley we present the work of surgeons and their colleagues in helping service personnel to rehabilitate, during the First World War and today.

“Presenting Tonks and Midgley side-by-side reinforces how far military surgery and reconstruction have advanced in a century; but that rehabilitation remains a long journey.”

Julia Midgley, artist comments:

“It has been a privilege to document the recovery of injured servicemen and women through drawing.

“This exhibition goes a small way to highlighting the months and in some cases years of rehabilitation faced by those wounded individuals.  I was struck by their bravery and determination and hope that these drawings help to illustrate their stories.”


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