Newcastle Arts Centre Gallery will be showing ‘The waiting room’, a new exhibition by artist Rachael Allen.  The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 7th September to 13th October 2012, entrance is free and all are welcome to the Preview Evening on Thursday 6th September from 6-8pm. At the Preview Evening Rachael will introduce her work with a talk from 6.30-7pm.

“In ‘The waiting room’, artworks of high skill and material expertise serve a richer, more creative perspective on human illness and suffering than can be achieved by quantitative measures, medical diagnoses’ and bioethical regulations.”

Rachael Allen, July 2012

We rely upon doctors to treat us during each of our life chapters. Trained in the healing arts with a licence to practice, the physician conducts our departure from the womb, dispenses treatment for juvenile ailments, administers the repair of broken limbs, manages the onset of, and recovery from, disease in adulthood, and eventually, oversees our decline in health towards death.

The examination of doctor/patient relationship, and indeed, the doctor and patient experience of medicine, extends over decades and continues to stretch philosophical attention. From the revolutionary mind and body separation belief of seventeenth-century philosopher and physician Rene Decartes, to Michel Foucault’s advent of a new medical ‘gaze’ in ‘The Birth of the Clinic’ (1975), to the Biopsychosocial model of human health in disease and illness, commonly practiced by physicians today.

Untitled (obstetric labour table and Entonox cylinder)

In ‘The waiting room’, drawings and miniature models animate these philosophical notions, in the absence of professional debate and judgment, to serve visual slices of doctor and patient dynamics. They address ethical concepts, questions and perspectives of medicine that have become part of contemporary culture today. Capturing the voice of patient and practitioner, the artworks explore attitudes and perceptions of the doctor/patient relationship; exuding the concerns, frustrations, conflicts and dilemmas that pervade the experience of medicine.

At the heart of the work is the (re)presentation of the human body as the object of disease diagnosis and narrator of illness experience; drawing attention to the bioethics of body autonomy and ownership. By and large, the patient body is consistent throughout all medical practices, where the diagnosis and treatment of an examined lesion, more than a person embodying pain, is aloof from the patients’ own narrative.

Untitled (hospital bed and NG feeding pump)

‘Make a Death Plaque’ Art workshop for ‘Death and Dissection’, studio 41, Glasgow


As well as the artist’s talk on the preview evening, there will also be a lecture followed by a discussion on Thursday 27th September in the Gallery from 6-8pm entitled ‘The Art of Illness’ this is a free event but pre-booking is advised.

Rachael will also be running a free workshop in the Gallery on Saturday 29th September from 10-4pm. All are welcome to ‘Make a Death Plaque’ by casting decomposing fruit in plaster and alginate, full details of this event are on under Courses and Workshops.


Rachael Allen was born in 1984, and is a visual artist living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne. On graduating in 2008, Allen has established an expertise in miniature model making and drawing, exhibits regularly nationwide and internationally, and achieves artwork sales, commissions and residencies. Currently artist in residence at Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham University anatomy labs, the artist is orchestrating various projects exploring the role of visual art in anatomy and medical pedagogy, whilst also situating her practice within the Medical Humanities nationwide. She is also involved in arts related community work and public engagement projects with science organisations in the North, including International Centre for Life and Science City.

Please visit the artist website and blog for past exhibitions, artworks, projects and news, or email Rachael for more information. You can find a location map to Newcastle Arts centre here.


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