In Partnership with the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (RCPI) Heritage Centre
Exhibition curated by Dr. Eoin Kelleher and Harriet Wheelock, RCPI Keeper of Collections
Guest Review by Jane Burns
This exhibition has been developed from the artwork of Eoin Kelleher who has produced a series of Living with COVID Comics in the Irish Independent Newspaper since the start of the pandemic. Eoin is seasoned artist who has a fantastic way of connecting complex, emotive, and personal perspectives in comic formats.
The exhibition is developed using Microsoft SWAY which makes it user friendly, interactive, and easy to share and imbed into websites of blogs. See link here for the Exhibition https://sway.office.com/6YSXgdYzohVvp410?ref=Link&loc=play The exhibit captures Eoin’s observations from his experience working in the Irish Health System as Anaesthetist which involves working in the ICU. His daily work life was surrounded by COVID. The illustrations were curated by Harriet Wheelock, Keeper of Collections at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland. Harriet is a very interesting and talented archivist so the collaboration between these two partners addresses the issues of the “now” with a professional eye on preserving for the “future”.
When you scroll through the exhibition you will need to look at every panel at least twice, initially we see Eoin’s eye witness expression of this tragedy and then on the second and future glances you pick up on nuances of the absolute horror and weariness of Irish frontline workers. So, while Eoin’s cartoons are primarily aimed at healthcare workers in a variety of ways, he also is able to capture the experiences that many of us can relate to this past year.
My favourite pane (below) which appears at the end of December predicts the new year with the hope of the vaccine.
He captures the miserable experience that 2020 has been for a lot of people but there is hope for 2021. We may still be dealing with COVID-19 but we will be celebrating 2021 as the year of the vaccine.
I think it is important for viewers of this exhibition to see the humanity of our frontline healthcare workers. Collectively, we will recover, but things will never be the same and I for one think this is a good thing. I find it inspiring to see people engaging with health issues through mediums that are accessible. It makes the experience a little less scary and a great deal more encouraging.
I first came across Eoin’s talent while working in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) when Eoin was a Medical Student. The Student Journal and a range of other RCSI publications were always beautifully adorned by his insightful illustrations.
Eoin has published an amazing book that is ideal for anyone at any level to learn how the Human body works. Journey Through the Body: A Visual Exploration (cover image below, and book available at: https://www.mercierpress.ie/irish-books/journey-through-the-body/, ISBN: 9781781177082.) is a beautiful and engaging book. The use of comic format in this book in some sections allows the reader to appreciate the intricacies, patterns, and beauty of our anatomy. You can watch the book’s preview chapter here.
Another creative publication that Eoin was involved with was the Colouring Book—Journey through the Brain—which was created by researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons, Department of Psychiatry and illustrated by Eoin Kelleher. See here for more info, notes of teachers and students and also a link to download a free copy. https://www.rcsi.com/dublin/journey-through-the-brain.
If you haven’t heard of or engaged with Eoin Kelleher’s work, I would suggest that you do. You will learn a great deal and will appreciate the role that comics can play in Graphic Medicine.
Follow Eoin Kelleher online Cartoons by Eoin Kelleher (http://eoinkelleher.com/); Originally published in The Medical
Jane Burns, MBA, MLIS, MPhil, FLAI, is the Director of the Regional University Network (RUN-EU) at Athlone institute of Technology, Ireland. Jane is currently pursuing a PhD in Education at Dublin City University where she is researching Graphic Medicine. @JMBurns99/ https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8708-5083