Experiences of Ageing: Hips, Bones, Supports and Interventions


As a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Center For Healthy Aging at the Faculty for Health and Medical Sciences at University of Copenhagen I was based at Medical Museion and explored aspects of every day ageing within the context of the medical museum collections. Spending time looking and drawing the overlooked, seemingly unimportant and the overly familiar showed that the processes and artefacts associated with ageing are unique and vital. Drawing offers insight and appreciation of an under appreciated aspect of all our lives. One where objects are hidden within the body or socially invisible or deemed insignifiant but are all relevant and beautiful.

Amid the ruins of the Augustinian monastery Æbelholt founded around 1175 is a fascinating museum of archaeological finds. The three artefacts I drew are connected with ageing. One is a pelvis and one a vertebrae, both revealing arthritis. The toothless skull has become a comical icon of ageing – I wanted to show it is also beautiful.

These are some of the broken hips from Medical Museion’s collections. They date from before the first metallic ball hip replacement surgery was performed in 1940, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in United States. Before this, if hips were broken, the patient would be confined and remain still until the bones healed together again. This was usually unsuccessful and often led to infections, disabilities and even death.

A faux mother of pearl hearing aid made to be hidden in the silver hair of a wealthy elderly lady, dentures, metal hip replacements, walking frames, walking sticks and catheter tubing are all objects that assist the elderly and items they encounter day to day. They can be forgotten or unnoticed because they are unseen or too utilitarian but their materiality and essential nature make them worthy of greater artistic attention