Independent Collector: A window into the intimate secrets of the body

TO MENTION "body parts" and "art" in the same breath is to raise visions of foetus earrings and stolen cadavers. But there are legal ways of revealing the sculptural aesthetics of, say, the penis - or, as Annie Cattrell shows here, the heart and lungs.

She used glass to make a slightly larger than life size interpretation of a resin cast on display at Guy's Hospital, London. She has titled it "Access", because it presents to us anatomical organs that we never see, although they are part of us.

Glass exposes that illusive intimacy perfectly. Like our innards, it is solid. But, unlike our innards, you can see right through it.

Cattrell, 35, an RCA graduate, consulted George Bridgeman, senior chief technician at Guy's Hospital, London. He sees cadavers every day. She never saw one, but she studied the detailed casts he makes by pouring resin into the tree-like formations of blood or air vessels before removing the flesh itself with a corrosive solution. His colourfully painted casts are used to teach students anatomy.

It is impossible to work so closely with nature - even expired nature - without developing an aesthetic appreciation of it. Mr Bridgeman's aesthetic is somewhat different from Cattrell's concept of paradox. For him, the wonder lies in the way veins and alveolae not only transport blood and air, but also form the substance of heart and lungs.

He says: "If you pour resin into the aorta then dissolve the tissue away, you end up with something that looks exactly like a heart because there is not a single square centimetre of tissue that does not have a blood supply. If it had none, it would die.

"It is the same with the bronchial tree. The branches go to every part. I sit back and think how beautiful it is".

The minds of the medic and the artist came together when Mr Bridgeman started to show Cattrell the anatomy of the nervous system (which has to be copied in wire, instead of cast, because its channels are tiny and tubeless). He showed her one of those cartoon-like diagrams showing how different areas of the body's surface vary in sensitivity according to how many nerve-endings they have - the head, hands and feet are shown big, the lips and tongue grotesquely so, the torso tiny. There are far fewer nerve endings in the internal organs, he told her, than in the surface of the skin. That confirmed her vision of an interior world of which we are scarcely aware. "As a child", she says, "I had seen a diagram like that, but I didn't understand it. In fact, I found it rather frightening.

She adds: "We know we have an outside and an inside, but there are also these channels that are unconsciously taking outside things - air, food, even dust - straight into the centre of our bodies. When things are running well, we take for granted all the automatic processes that are going on - the rhythms of breathing, the pulse. I'm not a religious person, but this is the closest I have come to a belief system.

"I'm also fascinated by the way cells divide to create a person. You wonder how it happens - and this is one of the advantages of using glass. You can look closely at a glass sculpture but it's still difficult to work out how it has been made".

She commissioned a professional glass-blower to make the trachea and the twin chambers of the heart - alternate heating and blowing produced the appropriate bulges. The delicate filigree of the bronchial tree she made herself, heating, sticking on and teasing out thin rods of glass under a turret flame lamp of the kind used by glass sculptors on seaside piers. She chose strong Pyrex silicate glass, used by makers of laboratory apparatus, rather than the soda glass of pier sculptors.

She intended the result to look like a cross between a diagram and reality. "It's so fragile, so fine, that it looks like something that's not really there. But if you brushed past it, it would break".

Cattrell has exhibited widely and is currently a senior lecturer in fine art at the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. Her next challenge will be the nervous system.

Prices: from pounds 1,500. Annie Cattrell: 0181-964 5153. `Access' is in the group show `Small Miracles' organised by Rose Frain at Miracles, 5 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AN (0131-225 2294)

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture