School of English

Artists’ Books and the Medical Humanities

An Interdisciplinary Symposium and Workshop, accompanied by Prescriptions: an exhibition of artists’ books by Martha A. Hall and other artists

Organised by the University of Kent’s School of English and the University of New England’s Maine Women Writers Collection, with the support of the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury.

Funded by The Wellcome Trust

Contact: Dr Stella Bolaki, School of English,

Artists' Books and the Medical Humanities was a one-day symposium and a full-day workshop, that took place in Canterbury on 21-22 April 2016. This also launched the exhibition Prescriptions (Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, 21 April- 25 September 2016). The exhibition presents artists' books by Maine book artist Martha Hall for the first time in the UK. Hall's books, created from 1998 until her death in 2003, document her experiences with breast cancer and her interactions with the medical community. They use many constructions and designs that challenge the conventional book form and demand a physical reading. The Prescriptions exhibition also includes a supporting show of artists’ books by national and international artists responding to themes of art and wellbeing that is curated by Dr Stella Bolaki and Egidija Čiricaitė. To view the online catalogue of Prescriptions please click here.



Photographs are reproduced with the permission of Egidija Čiricaitė.

The symposium, which launched Prescriptions, explored connections between artists' books, health/illness and medicine from interdisciplinary perspectives. It included invited keynote presentations, panels, a poetry reading, a special preview of the exhibition and a documentary screening that features Hall. Click here for a selection of photos of the day.

The workshop was facilitated by book artist and educator Andrew Malone and brought together health professionals, artists and members of the wider public. The aim was to create, in conversation and collaboration, artists' books that responded to the exhibition and the issues it addressed. Click here to see some images of the artists' books made during the workshop and click here to see Victoria Field's short film My Body as Book that was inspired by the workshop.

Since April 2016, two more workshops were organised sponsored by Cancer Macmillan and the Kent Medical Humanities Network respectively. See upcoming events for future workshops.

In addition to the Wellcome Trust’s support, the symposium and workshop have received generous funding from: The Maine Women Writers Collection; Department of English; Westbrook College of Health Professions; and Women’s and Gender Studies (University of New England); as well as from The Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing; The Centre for American Studies; and the Faculty of Humanities (University of Kent).

Reviews and reflections on the Artists' Books and the Medical Humanities project and Prescriptions exhibition:

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©Martha Hall, Maine Women Writers

Collection, University of New England


©Martha Hall, Maine Women Writers

Collection, University of New England


School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 31/08/2017