Anatomy for life


Anatomy for Life was started in 2013 by a group of anatomy demonstrators in Brighton Sussex Medical School. The aim was to raise public awareness for organ donation using artwork in the theme of anatomy. The main event is an international art exhibition in the theme of human anatomy, and runs during the UK National Transplant Week. (September 7th – 13th 2015)

Importance of organ donation

There is a constant shortage of organs available for transplant in the UK and the demand is rising. Figures in 2013 showed that only 31% of the UK population is registered on the organ donation register. More than 10,000 people need an organ transplant, and of these people, 3 will die each day before an organ becomes available. Organs that are transplantable include kidney, lung, heart, pancreas, small bowel and liver. One donor can potentially save up to 9 lives!    

Family refusal is the biggest single identified obstacle to organ donation, and therefore much campaigning strategy has been placed on promoting the need for discussion with loved ones.  The thought of organ donation is not particularly a comfortable one. Certainly it is not a simple conversation to have across a dinner table, with friends or family. Art however, is a great conversation starter, it is thought provoking, and also carries an important message to its viewers. For the artists, it is a way to express feelings.

Anatomy and art

Anatomical drawings have been the stem for studying the human body: for example the works of Leonardo Di Vinci. Many artists during the Renaissance studied anatomy to create accurate lifelike depictions of the human body. Whilst medical illustrators in the modern era continue to use drawings for medical education; artists and designers across the globe also use anatomical illustrations and medical imaging to bring a touch of humanity and medicalism to their artwork. How anatomy is being visualised in the modern pop culture is certainly fascinating as there are consistently new creative ways to portray human anatomy. Anatomical art is becoming popular as decorations in homes, offices, hospitals and even outdoor spaces.

Anatomy For Life want to take this forward and use anatomical artwork to highlight and celebrate the wonders of the human body. Importantly, to remind its viewers the important anatomy we all contain but have taken for granted for so many years of health. More importantly, Anatomy For Life hope to give people a chance to tell their stories about organ donation through art. The stories told by families of donors, recipients, and people waiting for transplants are extremely powerful.

Anatomy for life event 2015

The upcoming 2015 event is a collaboration of efforts by the Brighton Sussex University Hospital Trust (BSUH), Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), and organ donation charity “Live Life Give Life (LLGL)”.

The unique exhibition will be held at the Brighton Jubilee Library to showcase postcard-sized art relating to human anatomy. The art media ranges from collage, photography, digital art, etching to embroidery and more. The event is designed to engage the public, by open invitation of artwork from all members of the public. Healthcare professionals, patients and artists are all encouraged to participate regardless of their artistic experiences. The event is about bringing medical staff, patient and public together for the purpose of organ donation.

For the participants, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience to see their artwork in an exhibition side by side with world renowned artists. In addition, have their artwork sold for charity in a live online auction. The twist is that each artwork is anonymous, so that the bidders do not know who the artist is.

In the 2013 event, Anatomy For Life received anatomy artwork from over 15 countries including UK, France, USA, South Africa and Australia etc. For that many artists from across the globe to participate, shows that organ donation matters to everyone, regardless of boarders, ethnicity, age and race. Beneath our outward appearance, our anatomy is essentially the same, shared by each human being.