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Joan Smith

Artist Biography

These paintings were inspired by a remarkable archive of glass lantern slides, letters and photographs relating to the ScottishWomen’s Hospitals (SWH) in the First World War. Volunteer women doctors and nurses of the SWH provided medical assistance and support for the wounded in Serbia and France in field hospitals. The archive belongs to Surgeons’ Hall Museum, Edinburgh.

Edinburgh based artist Joan Smith worked with this collection for over a year, making drawings and paintings based on the glass slides and the notes by women on the front line and was inspired to bring their story to the attention of a contemporary audience.

The series is painted on copper plates to reference the thin, polished surface of the lantern slides. Copper also has antiseptic properties, making it useful in a field hospital environment. Its colour glows through the oil paint like gold.

Selected Exhibitions 

Joan Smith is an artist based in Edinburgh and is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art at Edinburgh College of Art. Joan has along standing interest in medical history. Recent research includes the Europe-wide ‘TRACES’ project exploring contentious museum collections. She is a member of the Bones Collective, an interdisciplinary research network of anthropologists, archaeologists and artists, and the art/science group, ‘Fusion’; both groups are based at the University of Edinburgh.

Exhibitions include ‘Dead Images’ (Edinburgh Arts Festival 2018); ‘Smugglerius Unveiled’, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2010); ‘TheBone Library’ (Summerhall, 2014 Edinburgh Science Festival);‘Cast Contemporaries’ (Edinburgh College of Art 2012); ‘Field Notes’(Surgeons Hall Museum, Edinburgh 2018-19); ‘In a Jiffy’ (Meffan Gallery, Forfar 2014); ‘Big Print Small Print’ (Eugeniusz Geppert Academy, Wroclaw 2014). Joan is a Professional Member of the SSA.