Interview with Pascale Pollier
conducted by Richard Bright (Interalia Magazine) and Vasia Hatzi (MEDinART)
Question: Please can you tell us about your background and how you came to be a medical illustrator and medical artist?
Pascale Pollier: I was interested in medicine from a very early age. At age 16 I had to choose to either go to art school or to stay on and study science. I was very good at biology and would have loved to work in a laboratory; however, my art teacher recommended I go to art school. This was the first time I had to choose between my two passions, art and science.
I studied fine art and painting at St. Lucas Academy of Art and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, both in Gent, Belgium, and loved the anatomy lessons and life drawing classes. The subject matter in my paintings was already inspired by medical conditions.
Years later when I started my medical art training, I understood that medical artists and scientists alike are very driven to make sense of what constitutes the physical body. It is the passionate drive to understand life itself that pushes them forwards, and their hope that they thereby might gain a perception and an understanding of death.
When studying with the Medical Artists’ Association of Great Britain, I spent 3 or 4 days a week drawing in the dissection rooms at the University College of London and was fascinated by the intricacy and complexity of our human bodies and struck by the beauty of this perfection!
I became very interested in congenital conditions, and began to study and research deviations from ‘the norm’. I am still deeply interested and sympathetically concerned about these matters from many different aspects. Anatomy to me is an endless source of inspiration.
After completing my postgraduate studies in medical art, I held a variety of jobs, from portrait painter at the Belgian Embassy to medical illustrator for a pharmaceutical company. I worked at The Body Worlds exhibition for Gunther Von Hagens, and have also assisted with my expertise and worked for other artists. Besides creating my own work, I began organizing and curating exhibitions, conferences and other collaborative art/science projects.
For over 10 years now, I have been a self-employed artist whose work is found under ‘artem-medicalis’. In addition, I have founded and I am president of BIOMAB ( Biological and Medical art Belgium) I’m president of the AEIMS (Association Européenne des Illustrateurs Médicaux et Scientifiques. )
Artist statement; My work is an attempt to capture the point where art and science meld. An alchemist at heart, I begin with observation and experimentation but my process of creating is steeped in solid scientific research and findings. My inspiration is drawn from observing the internal and external human body in all its diversity, strength, immortality, fragility, disease, mortality and death. New technologies and philosophies, quantum physics, Nano technology, animatronics are my muses and are important in my work. My work now mainly focuses on sculpture in wax, plastolene, sculpey, clay, silicone , bronze and resin. I like working in diverse media, oil painting, watercolor and drawing and writing the odd poem here and there. I welcome collaborative projects, making films, books, music and digital media.
Question: As a medical artist you became familiar with dissections and anatomy. What fascinates you most in the dissection room?
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