Saving Faces

Last night we had the annual Arts, Medicine and Society lecture organised jointly by the RA and the Royal College of Medicine and held at the latter.   It was given this year by Iain Hutchison, the charismatic surgeon in charge of facial reconstruction at the London Hospital, who twenty years or so ago started using the work of an artist, Mark Gilbert, to help patients (and the public) understand their facial disfigurement.  Gilbert’s work was first shown fifteen years ago at the National Portrait Gallery at the same time as the Mario Testino exhibition and has been travelling round the world ever since.   I found it very moving to be reminded of the immense dignity of the sitters, particularly Henry de Lotbinière, a barrister whose portrait demonstrates very clearly how the human spirit can rise above the circumstances of their affliction.

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