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​​​​​​​Arts & Organ Donation​​​​

Precious Scars

Remembering those whose generous gift

has allowed others to lead a more normal life


Donated Lulworth Oak Tree Supports Organ Donation

A glistening golden oak has been installed at Dorset County Hospital – and it represents a very powerful message. The sculpture, named 'Precious Scars', has been installed to recognise the incredible gift of life given by organ donors, with the support of their families.

A “tree of life”, the sculpture is also inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi where broken ceramics are lovingly restored with gold resin to highlight their wounds rather than to try to hide them. In this way they are reused and become a thing of beauty instead of being thrown away. Andy Kirkby sees this as a metaphor for the way in which organ donation is a gift of life that repairs the recipient. It is also why he is calling the sculpture “Precious Scars”. The oak tree has been donated to the hospital from the Lulworth Estate, where it died some time ago, and is now being re-born at the Hospital.​


The sculpture, located in the cardiology courtyard, is a permanent reminder of the life-changing difference organ and tissue donation can have on individuals and their families, and to encourage people to sign up as organ donors themselves.

The project has been the initiative of the Organ Donation team at Dorset County Hospital, led by Consultant Anaesthetist, Andy Ball, and Specialist Nurse, Helen Rose, in conjunction with the Arts in Hospital team.

Artist Andy Kirkby is the mastermind behind Precious Scars, with the sculpture taking him over a year to complete. Selected from more than 100 other artists, Mr Kirkby took the theme of organ donation and renewed life to p​roduce a striking sculpture. Using a tree from the Lulworth Estate, where it died some time ago, Mr Kirkby restored and 'healed' the scars in the trunk using inspiration from the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken ceramics are lovingly restored with gold resin to highlight their wounds rather than to try to hide them. The trunk is set on an industrial base to blend with the industrial look of the courtyard from the air-conditioning units.

A special ceremony was held on Tuesday 12th March to officially unveil the new artwork. It was attended by the families of organ donors whose loved ones gave the incredible gift of life, Artist Andy Kirkby, as well as staff members of Dorset County Hospital.


"I still remember walking into this hospital for the first time. I was immediately aware of a sense of calm and tranquility which came from the courtyards and the assorted art work. To this day I still feel happy to walk through the doors.
Unfortunately due to the needs of the hospital this courtyard had to be cleared of a dry stone wall sculpture and a mature tree. This left a rather stark and unwelcoming space which needed improvement. I have always had an interest in organ donation and was appointed as the trust clinical lead some years ago. I am very keen to promote the concept and ensure that the public are aware of their choice and the need to discuss this with their families. I also wanted to provide a memorial to celebrate the fantastic gift that our organ donor families have made to allow others to live a normal life.

In order to fulfill these goals we commissioned this art work by Dorchester artist Andy Kirkby from a field of 100 applicants. Andy has taken the theme of donation and renewed life to produce this striking sculpture. The tree was donated by the Lulworth estate where it has stood for the last 60 years after felling. Andy has restored and “healed” the scars in the trunk using resin and gold leaf in the style of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics using resin to bond the pieces and highlighting the mend with gold. In this way a broken object is reused and reborn, made more beautiful just as organ donation allows others to live a better life – all be it with scars. "
Andy Ball, Organ Donation Lead 



Emma W​​​​illiams ​

January 16 - March 2

Image Credit: Emma Williams

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve ? Up and coming Dorset artist Emma Williams thinks we should and has made a series of striking embroidered shirts showing the organs we could donate for an exhibition at Dorset County Hospital this month.

Emma interviewed local organ donors, donor’s families and transplant recipients about their experiences.  For the artwork she took some of the words that seemed important from the interviews and screen-printed them in the positions of where their scars would be and then hand sewed the organs around them. QR codes also link the pictures to interviews with the people Emma spoke to about organ donation – https://m.soundcloud.com/user-545323976/liver-recipient-mixdown-1/s-3eQ6C

This project, which is ongoing, addresses the shortage of organ donors and her aim is to get people talking. Emma says:

“There are so many more inspirational stories and I hope to continue making work around this theme to get people talking. I want people to have the conversation, with their families and friends, about organ donation and whether they wish to donate so that their wishes are known to relatives even if they are not registered”.

Andrew Ball, clinical lead for organ donation at the hospital commented:
"We are very excited to host this exhibit and especially pleased to see that the message seems to be spreading throughout the community of the importance of not only registering your intentions but also talking about your decisions with your family. Not infrequently at a difficult time we and a family are left wondering what a person might have wanted when they are in a position to allow organ donation. Make a choice, make it known"

Previously trained as a doctor, ill health forced Emma to rethink her direction in life and she is now studying for a foundation degree in contemporary fine art practice at Weymouth College.  Social issues interest her and are the themes of her work.  Emma said, “I feel the arts are a tool for expression”.  Her past projects include the decline of industries, communities and mental health, the juxtaposition between wealth and poverty and the glass ceiling.

Her current work can be seen in the Arts in Hospital exhibition corridor leading to the Damers restaurant in Dorset County Hospital until the 2nd of March 2019. ​

Emma Williams can be contacted via emruth_williams@hotmail.com or
07967 117005

To sign up to be an organ donor go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk​


© Dorset County Hospital 2013

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