Renowned sculptor Katharine Dowson has created the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize trophy, entitled ‘Is This My Soul’. It is a virtual specimen of Dowson’s own heart created by laser etching.
Dowson is an internationally recognised sculptor whose work investigating the intersections between science, art and medicine has been exhibited at the Hayward Gallery, Science Gallery London and Wellcome Collection.
Dowson was inspired to create ‘Is This My Soul’ after volunteering with the research team at the Robert Steiner MRI Unit at Hammersmith Hospital, London. Using an MRI scan of her heart, Dowson created 3D-printed models from which she was then able to laser etch the organ into glass. For Dowson, glass is a membrane and has a life of its own, moulding itself into objects and evoking the memory’s processes of impression and recall, replication and change.
The trophy was awarded to Mark O’Connell, author of ‘To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers and the futurists solving the modest problem of death’, who was announced last night as the winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2018, which recognises exceptional works of literature that engage with health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives.
The authors in contention were Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ ('Stay With Me'), Lindsey Fitzharris ('The Butchering Art'), Kathryn Mannix ('With the End in Mind'), Mark O’Connell ('To Be a Machine'), Sigrid Rausing ('Mayhem: A memoir'), and Meredith Wadman ('The Vaccine Race').