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Foreign Bodies, Common Ground Exhibition

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Medical research paves way for art

Six months, six artist residencies, six medical research centres. What do you get? An art exhibition of course. Artists can be inspired by just about anything, so if you deposit them in a place with a theme as rich as medicine, then you're going to end up with a healthy supply of ideas and creativity; not to mention diversity.

Foreign Bodies, Common Ground was a project conceived by the Wellcome Collection. Artists were sent to various medical facilities around the world, including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and the UK. They spent six months learning, creating, gaining cultural wealth, and have now returned to share their experiences through a wide range of different mediums.

From the 14th November to 9th February, you can follow these artists' journeys as they reveal the challenges, humour, and passion behind their work.

After visiting the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, the Thai-based theatre company, B-Floor, came up with a humorous interpretation of the human struggle to fight diseases, through a highly visual and sensory display.

Vietnamese artist, Lna Bi, did research into the study of animal-to-human diseases, while Elson Kambalu studied a form of 'earth painting' in Malawi. Miriam and James are multimedia artists based in Nairobi, and looked at the ethics and belief systems in medicine.

The photographer, Zwelethu Mthethwa, went to Cape Town to learn about the people living post-apartheid; he shares their stories through large scale colour photographs. Finally, Katie Paterson, a Scottish artist, made a fossil necklace after researching genetics; she focussed on genomic archaeology, human variation, and human evolutionary history.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: 14th Nov - 9th Feb
Phone: 44 (0)20 7611 2222
Where: Wellcome Collection
Cost: Free
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