Susan Hayes, a doctoral student with the School of Anatomy and Human Biology, ran a two day public workshop in April at the WA Museum called Art, Anatomy and the Skull.
During the workshop, participants built up the soft tissues of the head and face by applying clay directly onto a replica human skull. The workshop combined art with science, drawing on the artistic anatomy of traditional portrait sculpture and the anatomical approach to forensic facial reconstruction developed by Richard Neave in the UK.
Susan was initially trained by Ronn Taylor - the forensic sculptor for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. Together, they ran well-attended Masterclasses at the Victorian College of the Arts.
As part of her research into the recognisability of portraiture and forensic art, Susan has since undertaken intensive training in both 3D and 2D facial reconstruction with Dr Caroline Wilkinson at the University of Dundee. Since returning to Perth, she has run similar workshops for young gifted students through the PEAC program, where students attend the School of Anatomy and Human Biology to undertake their course, and secondary school programs for both fine art and science students have been held at the Centre for Forensic Science.
In all workshops, Susan has discovered that even people who had never handled clay before find it easy to sculpt a recognisably human face when working with a skull.
“By recognisable, I don’t mean how the actual owner of the skull may have appeared in life – impossible for such a short workshop,” she says.! “But the skull provides so many clues, and with some anatomical knowledge and a few artistic techniques, the results can be life-like.”