Review: Medical Mavericks; a Tate Exchange from Alder Hey Hospital & Twin Vision

Film Still, Sir Robert Jones Animation courtesy of Twin Vision

Medical Mavericks: Alder Hey Hospital & Twin Vision
Tate Exchange, until 29th February 2020

Review, Sophia Charuhas

At the beginning of the 19th century, Liverpool had the highest death rate in England, fractures were often treated by amputation, and many patients never made it out of hospital. Much has changed since then, and Medical Mavericks tells the story of three medical pioneers who played integral roles in bringing about these changes.

Dr William Henry Duncan (1805-1863) was born in Liverpool and educated in Scotland. Upon returning to Liverpool, he was greatly concerned by the unhealthy living situations of the poor. He saw a correlation between overpopulation and disease spread, which he wrote about. His writing led to the Sanitary Act of 1866. Dr Duncan became the first medical officer of health in Liverpool and laid the foundations of modern-day health services.

Sir Robert Jones (1857-1933) and his uncle were known as the fathers of modern orthopedic surgery. They opened workshops in Liverpool in which splints and braces were made, with a focus on affordability for all classes. Sir Jones also brought the first x-ray machine to England.

Frances Ivens (1870-1944) was the first woman consultant ever appointed to the Liverpool Record Office. She worked as a gynecologist originally but trained herself to treat war wounds by studying the writings of Robert Jones. Her hospital had a very low death rate compared to its contemporaries. Ivens was the first vice president of Liverpool Medical Institution.

Young patients at the Alder Hey Hospital worked with Twin Vision to create stop-motion animations to tell these stories, along with an app that includes interactive games to learn more. This project gave the children meaningful work to do while they were in hospital, including crafting the figures and props for the videos, as well as voicing the characters and narration. Visitors to the exhibit can watch the animations, read about the mavericks, and see the props on a dollhouse-like display. The app is intuitive, interactive, and educational. This exhibition and all the work that went into it is truly a celebration of modern medicine.

The exhibition is free and open to the public through the 29th of February, 10:00am-4:50pm at the Tate Exchange Liverpool.