Facing Out

by | Feb 3, 2022

Living with a facial disfigurement can be incredibly socially isolating. Facing Out is a two-year project that explores the impact of acquired facial disfigurement from head and neck cancers and their treatments.

With Arts Council England/National Lottery, the Whitworth, Manchester Science Festival and Faculty funding, this project involved Dr Anne-Marie Martindale, a social anthropologist, who researches the socio-cultural importance of faces and lived experience of facial disfigurement, incorporating the portrayal of appearance in popular culture and appearance-related discrimination.

A two-day event, including a presentation of this research, was held to bring people with facial cancer together and explore how the arts can help the healing process.

Renowned sculptor Eleanor Crook introduced participants to the anatomy of the face through creating wax sculptures of facial musculature, and people with facial cancer came together with doctors, specialists, former patients, medical students and artists for discussions on living with an altered appearance, and how engaging in art and culture can help people heal following an illness.

 This event formed part of wider ‘arts for health’ project by artist Lucy Burscough. Working in residence at Maggie’s Manchester, she created portraits of people who have experienced facial cancers and reconstructive surgery to promote subjects’ acceptance of the altered appearance and boost a beleaguered sense of self.

 The resulting portraits were exhibited at the Whitworth, with an accompanying programme of creative workshops, talks and tours.