Proto… Meta… Intra…

Postgraduate Medical Institute Art Commission (2011)

Proto… Meta… Intra… is a trio of artworks commissioned specially for the Postgraduate Medical Institute at Anglia Ruskin University (Chelmsford), drawing on the methods, practices and technologies of the medical research undertaken within the building.

The artworks, created by Heather Barnett in consultation with the medical research teams, take inspiration from medical technologies, such as CT scanning and computer modelling. Each work is in some way incomplete or partially evident, inviting the viewer to fill in the gaps and mentally reconstruct the body as a whole. As medical science becomes increasingly individualised through advances in molecular and technological research, the capacity to treat patients on an individual basis grows. The commissioned artworks depict the human form as both fragmented and whole, reflecting the analytical systems of medical research and the humanity of clinical care.

The titles to the works are also purposefully fragmented. As prefixes only (with their roots in the classical languages of medical science) the titles can be completed in a number of ways.


Located outside the Postgraduate Medical Institute stand two figures. Encased in stainless steel and assembled from flat cross-sections, the bodies form a reconfigured whole, their clarity and visibility changing from different viewing positions.


Across the front windows of the Postgraduate Medical Institute a series of ‘portraits’ appear within a complex web of frosted lines. The designs can be seen as both abstract and representational, as the light changes throughout the day the interweaving lines reveal familiar human forms.


The large canvas print brings together a community of human forms, the same body contours that make up the figures of the external metal sculptures. Modern medical science involves a great many people working together to improve the diagnosis and treatment of medical care.

The artworks were commissioned by Anglia Ruskin University and managed by Essex County Council’s Public Art Team. Through a collaboration of art and science the commission aims to raise awareness of the research work undertaken within the Postgraduate Medical Institute, whilst creatively exploring the complex processes and considerations of modern medical science.

The Postgraduate Medical Institute is a partnership of diverse members involving all the NHS acute hospitals, primary care trusts and mental health trusts in Essex, plus Essex County Council, Ramsay and Nuffield Hospitals, The Royal Society for Public Health and the five faculties of Anglia Ruskin University. The PMI brings together considerable clinical and academic resources to undertake research, foster innovation and deliver postgraduate education for the enhancement of health and social care.

All works created by Heather Barnett in collaboration with Karl Kjelstrup-Johnson (3D design) and Zanet Belasicova (illustration).