Body as Soul
Upon hearing the diagnosis ‘cancer’ I was numb with shock. Everything about my life was to change. The gift of the disease was an acute awareness of my own mortality. I went to Florence to study art and a chance tour brought me to an astonishing place: La Specola.
It is an eighteenth century facility for the instruction of art and medical students. The models are life-sized and created of wax and represent every aspect of the dissected human body. There are hearts and livers, spleens and uteri, skeletons and nerves, sinews and joints – all extremely realistic. I stood in the middle of the room and wept at the ‘terrible beauty’ of God’s creation. These were extraordinary landscapes which house the soul – structures formed by expediency and evolution. My mind was on fire with the intelligence of what I saw.
That initial exposure to the human body at La Specola in Florence led to a decade of odyssey from Italy to Vancouver, Toronto, Cambridge, Oxford and Vienna. Courteous sponsorship enabled me to work in human anatomy laboratories in these cities.
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