The Researcher’s View

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  • type-feat

    An epoch in the history of typography


    In the preface to The Anatomy of Sleep Jamaican–Scottish physician Edward Binns (1804–1851) claims to have written the first ever treatise on “procuring sleep at will, by directing the activity of the cerebral organs”. But that isn’t the only first… Continue reading

  • seaside

    Doctors and the invention of the English seaside


    How did the so-called ‘sea cure’ supplant the taking of waters at fashionable spas for Georgian England’s worried well? This was the question I sought answers for in the Wellcome Library’s collections. There I found several intriguing medical tracts, not… Continue reading

  • lovelace-feat

    Women pharmacists demand the vote


    On Ada Lovelace Day, pharmacy historian Briony Hudson discovers the pioneering role of women pharmacists in the women’s suffrage movement. In April 1913 Bernard Gill submitted an article for publication to the Pharmaceutical Journal that arrived in a charred envelope.… Continue reading

  • cardiac-feat

    Doctor! The heart’s stopped!


    Cardiac arrest is a popular narrative device in TV and film. However, on screen, it is shown to have much better odds of survival than in real life. During fictional hospital resuscitations, the dramatic significance of eye contact between team… Continue reading

  • rickets-feat

    Unearthing the health of Victorian London


    What can you learn from old bones? Rachel Ives explains what they tell us about the lives and deaths of the dead, and how osteologists use historical sources such as the Medical Officer of Health reports to confirm their findings… Continue reading

  • Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

    Mental health history ventures out of the asylum


    On 26 June the Wellcome Trust played host to a symposium on the history of 20th century mental healthcare in Britain – Keeping Mental Health in Mind. Part of motivation for the event, organized by the Wellcome Library and the… Continue reading

  • B0009925 Human head sculpted in clay, completing the eye
Credit: Heather Spears. Wellcome Images
Photograph of sculptor's hand holding a tool and completing the pupil in the left eye. A section of thin white clay (cut from a paper template to represent skin) has already been placed onto part of the face of the model. At this stage of anatomically modelling a human head, the skull has been completed and the major facial muscles and features (formed with clay mixed with red oxide for contrast) have been added. By carefully pressing muscles against the bone, they take on their anatomical shape without further modelling required. Lines or scoring on the muscles indicates fibre direction. The skull is viewed from the front (anterior view) but was created by the sculptor working from behind (posterior view) primarily by touch. With the cranium completed, the sculptor now continues to work from the front.

This image forms part of a series of work titled "Stranger than a Wolf" showing the gradual anatomical creation of a human head in clay. For the entire process (forming the cranial bone structure and placing the facial muscles, features and skin) see related images. As a reference, a male human skull was chosen from the Panum Collection, Copenhagen. Sculptor Ellie Scheepens was asked to reproduce it with attention to comparison and touch, and without viewing the front of the head and face (anterior view) at all. This unique method of forensic modelling was directed throughout the process by artist Heather Spears. Concept: artist, writer and educator Heather Spears. Sculpture: Ellie Scheepens. Photography: Orsolya Benkóczi and Isaac Carter.
2013 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

    Stranger than a wolf


    Wellcome Images recently acquired a photographic series depicting the gradual creation of a human head in clay.  They form part of an art project called Stranger than a Wolf by artist Heather Spears. For the project sculptor Ellie Scheepens was… Continue reading

  • L0057809 Blue ridged glass bottle for arsenic, Europe, 1701-1935

    Test of an expert witness


    When in 1836 James Marsh announced his test for the presence of arsenic, the news was greeted with huge relief. Unknown numbers of deaths, it was feared, were being attributed to diseases such as dysentery or food poisoning when the… Continue reading

  • gartnavel-feat1

    The care of pauper lunatics in Glasgow


    Gartnavel Royal Hospital is one of the institutions in our project to digitise mental health archives selected from across the UK, and make them freely available through the Wellcome Library catalogue. As the Gartnavel records begin to appear online, Archivist … Continue reading

  • L0011301 Insane patient in a strait-waistcoat.

    Setting the record straight: maniac or sick man?


    Researcher Jon Mitchell searched the Retreat archives in pursuit of John Summerland, an asylum patient whose story figures in histories of madness and mental health. What he found was a lost reputation. Like so many undergraduates, the first time I came… Continue reading