(Jeff_L) #1


Angela Hodgson-Teall

part of my brain “opening up” for the first time.
Secondly, I drew with my left, non-dominant hand
for the first time, at the suggestion of a tutor, when I
returned to college^10 in 1990 and found new explor-
atory potential in my drawing and a strong sense of
being attuned to life. Thirdly I noted that when typ-
ing my MA thesis on drawing, in 2001, there was a
difference in the freedom and flow of thought dur-
ing bi-manual typing, using all fingers, compared
with writing with a pen.
What was striking about these three observa-
tions was that each was located at the dawning of
a very intense and daunting experience; becoming
a doctor, becoming a mother and writing my MA
drawing thesis, having just introduced collaborative
drawing practice to my long-standing medical col-
leagues at a hospital in South-East London, which
felt quite a risky undertaking. During my research
degree I decided to take drawing with both hands
at the same time, eyes closed, to my participants in
the Big Draw^11 experiments, in order to understand
more about practices in both medicine and draw-
ing. Claude Heath asserts that drawing from touch
carries a quite different body of knowledge from
drawing by eye. (Kovats, 2006)
Avis Newman suggests drawing offers the most
direct access to the intimate workings of the artist’s

I have always understood drawing to be,
in essence, the materialisation of a con-
tinually mutable process, the movements,
rhythms, and partially comprehended
ruminations of the mind: the operations of
thought. (Kovats, 2006)

Here Newman describes the act of drawing as a
way of casting our thoughts into the visual domain,
with the opportunity to recast as understanding
deepens. By asking my participants to draw with
both hands at the same time I receive a dual reflec-
tion, an impression from both hemispheres of the
brain making this a rich and real-life-like experi-
ence for my participants, whether in a hospital or
gallery. Medicine is an activity that requires con-
stant use of both hands, whether taking blood or
examining a patient. In New York my participants
were artists. By reciting the passage about the
spleen, heaven and earth and then palpating their
spleens whilst the lay on the ground drawing with
both hands I took them into a territory of “war,

death or sickness”, a field in which medical practice
also takes place.
I thought that this activity might help elucidate
important aspects of empathy, which requires a
complex balance of thinking and feeling. Partici-
pants have confirmed that having the opportunity to
work resting on the ground allowed more thoughts
and feelings to emerge, something I also observed
in my research in the hospital^12. I was looking for an
engagement with the physical, searching for inter-
nal images and symbols that might allow transfor-
mation, via the process of drawing and the sense
of touch to a space that is both internally located
and attached to the external world and the socially
engaged space. The double-blind drawing approach,
lying on the floor in an art gallery^13 , with eyes
closed, allows that opportunity.
Comments from a couple of my participants are
recorded below:

Figure 3. Sara Stuart-Smith at Elixir Gallery, Queen
Elizabeth Hospital
Free download pdf