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17 December 2019

Interactive exhibition on oral health brings awareness to links between art and dentistry

'Heads up!' showcased how art-science collaborations can illuminate the lived experience of patients and clinicians.

An image of the Arcade front window displaying the exhibition title and two, large cardboard animal heads with a visitor looking into one of the heads
'Heads up!' window display with animal heads by artist Stephanie Bickford-Smith. Photo: Jo Mieszkowski

Visitors to Heads up! Shining a light on innovations in oral health have praised the exhibition for bringing new perspectives to oral health. One visitor, who is a theatre maker, commented that the exhibition has inspired them to 'do more arts and science workshops' in their own practice.

Heads up! (2–13 December 2019) shed light on the fascinating world of craniofacial research through  art-science collaborations, many of which were the culmination of the Arts in Dentistry Innovation Programme.

This experimental, arts-based programme engages academics from the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences to work with artists. Through these collaborations, the artist-academic projects have brought new perspectives to the Faculty's aim to understand disease, enhance health and restore function.

Visualisation and plays of perceptions reminded me to observe and sense, interact and care for the mouth and teeth differently... I look forward to introducing new notions and aspects of healing approaches to my practice.

visitor comment

I am currently studying arts and cultural management at King's, so this exhibition is related to my personal interests and future career.

visitor comment

Projects exhibited include an exploration of regenerative dentistry and stem cell research through poetry, using virtual reality to see the world from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair and raising awareness of hearing loss and dry mouth though 3D printing.

The exhibition also showcased outputs of the Thriving in Cultural London arts-based module for first-year dental undergraduates. A student visitor who took part in the module said they felt 'proud of having been involved'.

The accompanying events programme included Stillpoint, a participatory performance by King's academic Andrea Streit and artist Tabatha Andrews, as well as a Student Late event featuring performances from Hayden Cohen and King's medical student Mandeep Singh, accompanied by musicians from The Prop Up.

There were also a series of creative workshops involving clay making, experimental drawing, modelling stem cells and making mouths with embroidery. Participants commented that the workshops provided great opportunities to 'learn more' and 'see differently' through 'creative relaxation'. 

The exhibition was supported by a team of gallery supervisors who engaged with visitors and gathered feedback about their experiences, with King’s students accounting for almost 60% of the total audience.

The majority of visitors rated the exhibition as 'excellent', with many saying that it enhanced their understanding of oral health. One visitor said they 'enjoyed the cross-disciplinary element' of the exhibition, because it was 'a fun, accessible and open way to learn and engage' with the research.




Photography by Jo Mieszkowski

In this story

Flora Smyth Zahra

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Interdisciplinarity & Innovation Dental Education

Mike Curtis

Professor of Microbiology

Kim  Piper

Academic Lead for Student Success