S Jones & L Temple-Cox: Meet the Ancestors

02nov11:3013:00S Jones & L Temple-Cox: Meet the Ancestors11:30 - 13:00(GMT+00:00) View in my timeEvent typeWorkshopTopicCultural PracticesSession ID: Session 6B


(Tuesday) 11:30 - 13:00(GMT+00:00) View in my time

Event Details

Susan-Elaine Jones & Lisa Temple-Cox: Meet the Ancestors, looking at human skulls


Human beings often experience very powerful and profound feelings when they are allowed to handle real human remains. Through our professional experience, we have come to realise that offering such an opportunity to people enables them to reflect on their own death and mortality in a positive and often uplifting way. This masterclass offers the general public an opportunity to handle and examine skeletal remains. Such an opportunity is currently rare as human remains are often either kept out of sight, are protected behind glass in museums, or are only accessible even more remotely when presented by archaeologists and anatomists on TV. We aim to encourage these masterclass delegates to not only observe real human skulls but also to handle them and examine the anatomical features that can help identify the biological sex and age characteristics of the individual during life. This approach helps allay potential fears of being judged as ‘morbid’, and instead encourages engagement and natural curiosity. As a result of our experience, we have found that people naturally tend to progress to relating the human skull they are holding in their hands to their own anatomy, and they draw a connection between their living experience with that of the dead person’s head in their hands.

After initial handling guidance, we intend to split the delegates into two smaller groups – one to sit, observe and draw a skull, using a specific technique under the guidance of Lisa Temple-Cox, whilst the second group will consider the best way to photograph a skull. Both approaches will highlight not only the anatomical features, but they will also encourage a sense of connection with the remains that the delegates can take home with them and reflect upon further. (Neither approach requires any previous expertise – iPhones or similar will be ideal for photography and drawing materials will be provided).




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Speakers for this event

  • Lisa Temple-Cox

    Lisa Temple-Cox


    Lisa Temple-Cox is a professional artist, with a focus upon the anatomical, covering a number of artist residencies including the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia and NHS Tissue Bank in Liverpool, with an upcoming residency in the Anatomy Museum of Edinburgh University.


  • Susan Elaine-Jones

    Susan Elaine-Jones

    University of Cambridge

    Susan Elaine Jones is a skeleton photographer working with the University of Cambridge Archaeology and Anatomy departments, and the Cambridge Museums of Zoology and Earth Sciences. Also co- organiser of death awareness events for Dying for Life, Cambridge since 2017.

    URL http://www.susanelainejones.com

    University of Cambridge