The First World War was a war dominated by high explosives and heavy artillery. Battlefield casualties included an unprecedented number with horrific facial injuries - injuries so severe the men were commonly unrecognizable to loved ones and friends. Often unable to see, hear, speak eat or drink, they struggled to re-assimilate back into civilian life. This secondary tragedy - the living unable to "live" - catalyzed Surgeon Sir Harold Gillies to transform the fledgling discipline of plastic surgery based on his unrivalled observation of the profoundly wounded and his ability to push the parameters of the profession beyond all known techniques.You can see the case studies here. Via.
Since 2004, Artist and Project Façade Leader Paddy Hartley has researched, responded to and interpreted the personal and surgical stories of some of the servicemen who underwent this pioneering surgical reconstruction under Sir Harold Gillies.
Hartley works from original patient and surgical notes, sketches and photographs of the men that form part of The Gillies Archive, Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup along with personal testimony from the families of some of the men. He produces digital and hand embroidered sculptures using uniforms similar to those worn by the injured men, to present fragmented personal histories of the men who endured long and painful reconstructive surgery developed by Sir Harold Gillies and his surgical team.
Hartley works in partnership with Gillies Archive Curator Dr Andrew Bamji at Queen Mary's Hospital Sidcup and Biomaterial Scientist Dr Ian Thompson in the Oral Maxillofacial Dept, Guys Hospital London, This ground-breaking project provides a unique opportunity for Paddy Hartley to examine and respond artistically to the origins of surgical facial reconstruction with a view to tracing further Gillies Veterans families and seeking a greater acknowledgment of the experiences, sacrifices and of the patients and medical staff in the care of Sir Harold Gillies.
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