Art and Science meet at the Wellcome Image Awards 2017

Thursday, 23 March, 2017

Overall winner: A captivating digital illustration portraying a personal experience of Crohn’s disease has been selected as the overall winner for the 2017 Wellcome Image Awards. Stickman – The Vicissitudes of Crohn’s (Resolution) is a striking computer-generated image which conveys the physical and emotional experience of Crohn’s disease, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the digestive system. It is part of a series incorporating Stickman, the alter ego of illustrator Spooky Pooka (Oliver Burston), who suffers from Crohn’s disease. Stickman’s skeletal body references the weight loss, frailty and abrupt, transformative nature of Crohn’s. Julie Dorrington Award for outstanding photography in a clinical environment - this year's awards also saw the second Julie Dorrington Award for outstanding photography in a clinical environment. This was awarded to a detailed close-up photograph by Mark Bartley, showing how an ‘iris clip’ is fitted onto the eye. Iris clips are used to treat near sightedness and cataracts. The patient in the image, a 70-year-old man, regained almost full vision following his surgery. Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images and chair of the judging panel, explained: “This extreme close-up shows the expertise of the clinical photographer in illustrating with such clarity and precision this minuscule lens that, clipped by a surgeon into the human iris itself, can restore a patient’s vision.”

Durban, South Africa, will see 22 of the world’s most incredible science images go on display from tomorrow at SANTHE'S Lead Institute - the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) - in Durban for the next month.

The Wellcome Image Awards 2017 showcase the best in science image making, and include a broad range of cutting-edge artistic and scientific techniques. From photography and illustration to super-resolution microscopy and medical scans, the images use a variety of methods to capture the imagination and bring complex concepts to life.

Now in their 20th year, the Awards recognise the creators of informative, striking and technically excellent images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science. This year’s award-winning images include a beautiful illustration of Nobel laureate and neurobiologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, a glimpse at the intricate system of blood vessels inside an African Grey Parrot and a fascinating visualisation of Twitter conversations about breast cancer.

The images will be shown at exhibitions held across the UK, Russia, online and at AHRI on the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine campus. The AHRI exhibition will move to the UNIZULU Science Centre in Richards Bay in May 2017.

AHRI Director, Professor Deenan Pillay, said: “We are so pleased to be hosting an exhibition of the Wellcome Image Awards. The visual image is a key medium through which the complexity of science and nature can be made understandable. The images are beautiful to look at, but also uncover a fascinating world that is usually hidden to the eye – as well as to the non-specialist researcher. They will, I believe, delight and inform – whether you are a school pupil or senior scientist.” 

The Wellcome Image Awards were established in 1997 to reward contributors to the Wellcome Images collection for their outstanding work. Over the past 20 years as science and technology has progressed, the awards have embraced new styles and pushed the boundaries of science image making.

Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images and chair of the judging panel said: “It’s now 20 years since the first Wellcome Image Awards and we continue to be surprised and delighted by the range of extraordinary images we receive each year. We are thrilled that they will be displayed across the UK and abroad so that people can come and explore the stories behind these stunning images.”

The 22 winning images were chosen by nine judges from all those acquired by the Wellcome Images picture library in the past year.