Under the skin: Anatomy, art and identity

When and where

10 October 2019 to 3 April 2020
Royal College of Physicians of London
Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, Regent's Park, NW1 4LE

Under the skin: Anatomy, art and identity

We are fascinated by the contents of our complex and fragile bodies

Anatomical art captures the shapes, structures and textures of the organs and tissues that are hidden beneath our skin. Physicians, surgeons, artists and printers have developed diverse tools and techniques to represent the layers of the three-dimensional

Representing the human body is also a question of power. Anatomical illustrations attempt to communicate objective truths about the body, but they also expose questions around identity and consent. Whose bodies are being used, and who controls how they are depicted?

In this exhibition, contemporary artworks in a range of media from glass to ceramic, performance to sculpture are displayed alongside historical books and drawings to offer personal and emotional reflections on medical representations of the human body. Providing a current perspective on the medical objects, and contemplating our complex relationship to our bodies today, are contemporary artists Andrew Carnie, Amanda Couch, Adelaide Damoah, Tamsin van Essen, Rebecca D Harris, Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, Sofie Layton, Lucy Lyons, Liz Orton, Lori E Allen, Bee Flowers, Angela Palmer, and Ruth Uglow.

This exhibition is part of Thinking 3D, an interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and communication of three-dimensionality and its impact on the arts and sciences.

Share your thoughts on the exhibition using #RCPUnderTheSkin @RCPmuseum

Ruth Uglow, Stem 006; Tamsin van Essen, Medical Heirlooms; Bee Flowers, Head 10


Our exhibitions are free to visit Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm, until 8pm on the first Thursday of the month* and for other evening events. Pre-booking is not required but if you are planning to visit as a group of six or more please get in touch in advance to arrange your visit. Email us: history@rcplondon.ac.uk. Check planned closure days before your visit.

The RCP is fully wheelchair accessible. For accessibility information please see the main RCP website

Public Programme

'Under the skin' is accompanied by a series of talks, tours, workshops and Lates on the first Thursday of the month*

  • Museum Late, Thursday 10 October*, 5.30-8pm *(a week later than usual)

  • Museum Late, Thursday 7 November, 5.30-8pm

  • Whose body is it anyway? Artist talk and panel discussion, Wednesday 20 November (booking opens soon)

  • Beautiful bodies: archives uncovered, Tuesday 26 November

  • Museum Late, Thursday 5 December, 5.30-8pm

  • Plus more to be announced

About Thinking 3D

Thinking 3D is an interdisciplinary exploration of the concept of three-dimensionality and its impact on the arts and sciences. The innovative project puts the minds of the 21st century in touch with those of early practitioners exploring three-dimensionality.

The programme includes a year-long series of exhibitions, events, public talks, gallery shows, and academic symposia intended to incite dialogue between artists, art and book historians, mathematicians, astronomers, geometers, earth scientists, botanists and chemists.


Other information