In the Face of Uncertainty
- Museums Australia (Victoria)
- Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
The industrial nature of warfare during the First World War led to horrific injuries.
These injuries were of an unprecedented scale that medical science had never before experienced. Men suffered excruciating and deforming facial injuries. propelling medical science into a period of rapid innovation and development.
This pioneering facial reconstructive surgery was undertaken during and in the aftermath of the First World War and it offers a real insight into how surgeons began to understand modern plastic surgery and facial reconstruction.
This story is told through the Sidcup Collection, held by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
The Sidcup Collection is named after the Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup near Kent, England. It is where this pioneering surgery took place, and the collection comprises medical records, patient files, illustrations, photographs, sketches, x-rays and plaster casts. The collection highlights the significant contribution Australian surgeon Henry Simpson Newland and his staff made to modern facial surgery.
Diagnostic tools and techniques used by the surgeons were particularly innovative. Artist Daryl Lindsay worked for some time at the hospital, providing colour illustrations of the injuries which served to capture the patients’ whole being. In a time before 3D imaging, plaster casts of the mens' faces were taken to provide surgeons with a comprehensive understanding of the injuries.
The Sidcup Collection provides a window into how medical science and innovation responded to war as well as an insight into the surgeons, the patients and the ideas that make up this extraordinary story.
Some of the material in this story contains themes and graphic imagery that is quite confronting and may disturb or offend some viewers.