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2017-01-05 15:19:54

International Congress On Wax Modelling 2017 Sept 1 ,2 & 3

Eleanor will take part in this international event as Artist In Residence, demonstrating the lost techniques of Clemente Susini the wax master of the Specola and Josephinum anatomical wax museums. She will present a new large anatomical sculpture in progress and work on it in an open discussion forum with original wax and varnish mixtures and talk about her experiences working with the museum collections - all in situ at the Gordon Museum of King's College London, next to the wax model collection of Joseph Towne.

Registration and call for papers now open

On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of September 2017, for the first time in 40 years, the major institutions related to the art of Ceroplastics or Wax Modelling are going to meet again in an International Congress in London.

This time, presented by the Gordon Museum of Pathology, King’s College and Madame Tussauds it will explore the multidisciplinary potentials of the art of Ceroplastics in Art and Science.

This Congress is the brainchild of Dr Roberta Ballestriero who spent the last 20 years researching the art of ceroplastic (wax modelling) in Italy, Spain and the UK. A long-harboured dream was finally made possible thanks to a collaboration with a team of multi-disciplinary experts in this field.

They include;

Mr. Bill Edwards, curator of the Gordon Museum of Pathology and senior tutor at the King’s College where the largest collection of scientific wax models of Joseph Towne is kept.
Louise Baker, the first person responsible for the cataloguing and conservation of the ancient collection of Madame Tussaud.
Eleanor Crook, artist in residence at the Gordon Museum and one of the main artistic authorities in the contemporary wax modelling for the last 30 years.
Mr. Francis Wells, renowned cardio surgeon from Cambridge with a long-standing interest in the Arts and the relation between art and science.
Dr Francesco Maria Galassi, paleopathologist from the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, who examines the importance of wax models in the history and evolution of ancient pathologies to the benefit of contemporary medical research.
Pascale Pollier, Belgian artist, President of AEIMS Association Européenne des Illustrateurs Médicaux et Scientifiques and talented wax modeller. Owen Burke, former medical physicist, photographer and graphic artist.

So far a wonderful variety of national and international speakers, coming from important institutions, have agreed to participate in the congress covering many of the different aspects of this fascinating and peculiar art:

Madame Tussauds: will present the history of waxworks, its historical importance and psychology.

Gordon Museum: holds the largest collection of anatomical, pathological and dermatological waxes of Joseph Towne (1806-1879), the first and the only anatomical ceroplastic artist known in the UK.

Museum of Zoology and Natural History “La Specola”, Florence: will present one of the oldest and finest collections of anatomical wax models of the 18th century from the ‘new model’ of scientific museum pioneered in the Enlightenment.

Museo Olavide, Madrid: will talk about the recently rediscovered collection of Spanish dermatological moulages.

The Victoria and Albert Museum: will show some of the beautiful, largely unknown, wax models and sketches from the 16th to the 19th century.

Westminster Abbey: will present the funeral masks and effigies of the Royal Family.

The approach of conservation and restoration of wax artefacts will be presented by revered institutions such as the Opificio delle Pietre dure of Florence, the Westminster Abbey conservator and the V&A of London.
British artist Eleanor Crook and Belgian artist Pascale Pollier will talk of the art of sculpting in wax, running some wax workshops in the Gordon Museum premises and with and exhibition of contemporary artworks made in this fascinating material.

London 2017

President: Roberta Ballestriero (London)

President of the Pygmalion Society: Louise Baker (London)
Vice Presidents: Bill Edwards (London), Eleanor Crook (London)
Organising Committee: Francis Wells (Cambridge), Francesco Maria Galassi (Zurich), Pascale Pollier (Belgium)
Webmaster: Owen Burke (London)

Wax Heart, Joseph Towne

Photograph: Owen Burke

Call for Papers

Deadline for abstract submission: 31st March 2017

Conference website

2016-11-07 13:08:35

Study Trip To FLorence, Wax Tools In Hand

I'm packing up a miniature version of my wax studio and taking it to Florence this November, doing some onsite sculpting at the Casa Buonarroti ( Michelangelo's old house so no pressure there) and some behind the scenes research at the wax anatomical Museo Della Specola. I've also been very fortunate to be invited to meet the team where Donatello's Mary Magdalen was restored, a full polychrome early Renaissance wood sculpture. I'm planning to seek and record anything interesting in a dense black renaissance recipe modelling wax and in silverpoint drawings. Back to the source.

( Image: Donatello's Mary Magdalen soon after she had been rescued from the waters of the great flood in Florence in 1966.)

2016-05-29 20:56:44

Death, Art & Anatomy Conference University Of Winchester, June 3-6, 2016

Eleanor will be In Residence at the conference this week doing a 4 day public woodcarving demonstration on the Carved Cadaver , Guy of Gaunt, a six-foot tomb effigy of a skeletal figure in the style of the late medieval effigies found in Britain and North Europe from the mid 15th - 16th centuries. The project was inspired by the research of Dr Christina Welch of Winchester University, and is presented as part of a large academic conference and series of performances and presentations over a long weekend. Eleanor will transport her carving studio to the West Downs building on the campus and continue work on the immense limewood block which was prepared and sent from teh Giesler-Moroder woodcarving school in Elbigenalp, the Tyrol, Austria, and crowdsourced by generous public support.

More details click here

2016-05-28 22:31:03

Upcoming 2 Day Workshop Hunterian Museum, Hold The Date!

Hold the Date for a 2 day wax modelling and painting workshop at the Hunterian Museum , Royal College of Surgeons, London with me in August, 19 and 20th. Details and Booking Info to be posted here soon!

2016-05-02 22:45:01


May 15th TIME: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
OFFSITE AT London's Horse Hospital

Please join Morbid Anatomy and Strange Attractor as we celebrate the release of the new book “The Anatomical Venus” (published by Thames and Hudson in the UK and DAP in the US), which explores the strange and fascinating history of seductive female anatomical wax models, which peaked in fashion in the 19th century. Filled with never before published images from around the world, and documented in intricate detail, the book is the result of Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein’s global, ten-year photographic quest. Since their creation, these wax women have seduced, intrigued and amazed; this symposium will also attempt to explore the ways in which, to the contemporary eye, they also confound, flickering on the edges of medicine and magic, votive and vernacular, fetish and fine art.

10:00 AM: Joanna Ebenstein, Morbid Anatomy, Author of “The Anatomical Venus: “An Enlightenment-era St Teresa Ravished by Communion with the Invisible Forces of Science: A Brief Introduction to The Anatomical Venus

10:15: Keynote: Eleanor Crook, Wax Sculptor: The Deliquescent Self: Wax, Anatomies and the Fear of Melting

10:45-12:45: Panel One: Faith, Magic, Theology & The Body: Moderated by Ross MacFarlane, Wellcome Collection

Chiara Ambrosio, Filmmaker: My Grandfather the Spirit Doctor & Me: Listening to Bones and the Voices in the Ether
Emily Evans, Artist and Anatomist: The Use of Human Hair in Art and the Divine
William Maclehose, Historian of Religion and Medicine, UCL: Sleeping with the Divine: Incubation and Dream Healing in the Premodern World
Ross MacFarlane, Research Engagement Office, Wellcome Library: An Intimate Collection? Tracing Emotions in Edward Lovett’s Amulets and Charms
James Kennaway, Historian of Medicine, Newcastle: The Role of Music in Mesmerism

12:45-1:45: Lunch Break

1:45-3:45: Panel 2: Natural and Supernatural: Moderated by Mark Pilkington, Strange Attractor Press

Mark Pilkington, Strange Attractor Press: Echoes of Afterlife: Comparing Textual and Medical Models of Post-Mortem Existence
Christopher Josiffe, Cataloguer at Senate House Library and Writer: Gef! The Strange Tale of An Extra Special Talking Mongoose
Jonathan Allen. Artist, Writer and Educator: The Tarot of Austin Osman Spare
Kirsten Norrie, Artist, Writer, Performer: Second Sight in Highland Tradition

3:45-5:00: Panel 3: Wax: Moderated by Eleanor Crook, Wax Sculptor

Eleanor Crook: Talk and Wax Modeling Demonstration
Nathalie Latour, Wax Conservator, Paris: André Pierre Pinson, the Wax Modeler of the French Revolution

5:00 – 7:00 Panel 4: Morbid Amusements: Moderated by John Troyer, Centre for Death and Society

John Troyer, Director of the Centre for Death and Society, Bath: That’s Not Funny!: Morbidly Amusing Necrophilia Law
Lili Sarnyai, University of London, Graduate Student: Sleeping Beauties
Professor Mervyn Heard, performer, scholar and author of Phantasmagoria: The Secret Life of the Magic Lantern: Phantasmagoria: Ghost-raising for Fun and Profit in the 18th Century
Steven Coates, Musician (The Real Tuesday Weld) and Author: Xray Audio: Soviet Music on the Bone

Image: Anatomical Venuses created by the workshop at La Specola, Florence, in the Josephinum Museum, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Joanna Ebenstein

2016-04-21 22:08:00

Morbid Anatomy Vienna Weekend Of Anatomy 22-24 April

The museums Josephinum and Narrenturm are host to a series of lectures and tours this weekend giving an opportunity to visit the wax collection of Clemente Susini anatomies sculpted for the Austro-Hungrian emperor in the late 18th century and the vast pathological collection housed in an 18th century panopticum mental asylum. Eleanor will be giving a lecture on expressionism in anatomical sculpture at the Narrenturm on Saturday morning.

Full event details

2016-04-12 21:51:19

Ruskin Summer School Sculpting The Body: Ecorche, Anatomy And Life Sculpting

Dates: Monday 26th September - Friday 30th September 2016

The course in which I really get to teach in depth sculpting the figure, with a perfect team, equipment and surroundings, is the Sculpting the Body Course at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford ( it's the art school of Oxford University.) Now taking bookings. No previous experience is required and all levels are welcome , from beginners to experienced sculptors.

What I especially enjoy about the Ruskin course, which I teach with the artist Sarah Simblet who is well known as an inspiring and charismatic tutor with an exceptional talent for, love of and mastery of drawing, is the combination of an informal atmosphere with a committed and intense working approach.

We give slide talks, visiting speakers, anatomy lessons, discuss composition for figurative sculpture, materials, armatures, pose design, expressive approaches, the history of figure modelling, show movies about famous sculptors, serve coffee, tea , biscuits, cake and fruit to fuel the group . Friendships are forged, technical problems tackled and mastered, observational skills are honed, portfolios are enhanced, and most of all the body is learned as a living, physical creature of expression.

I know that for a training artist the course fee is an appreciable expenditure and so I really strive to pack everything I know into the week and deliver skills, tips and tricks that will stand students in good stead for their future and personal work, as well as trying to do justice to the history and practice of an art form that is often overlooked or cursorily delivered in mainstream art schools.

Our muse and collaborator for this course is the well- known model and performer Andrew Crayford, who with exceptional skill in his craft , patience and good humour takes the pose for a spirited and elegant finished 24" tall life sculpture.


Day 1 : Introduction to the skeleton and anatomy of the écorché

Day 2 : Designing a pose and preparing two armatures

Day 3 : Clay modelling on an armature and wax modelling on a miniature armature with a life model. Visiting Speaker teatime lecture.

Day 4 : Ashmolean Museum visit am; and life modelling pm

Day 5 : Advanced figure modelling with life model, final photo session and farewell drinks


Ruskin courses are only available to adults over the age of 16 years.

There are three payment rates available:

Adult - £750.00

Oxford University students, staff and alumni (10% discount) - £675.00

Students (with a current NUS card) and OAPs (5% discount) - £712.50

If you select a discounted booking rate, you will need to present your University alumni/staff card, NUS card, or some form of identification indicating your OAP status at the start of the course.

For more info on the Ruskin, and the anatomy summer courses, visit http://www.rsa.ox.ac.uk/study/short-courses/human-anatomy
This course is listed at the bottom of that page. The other Ruskin summer anatomy courses are also listed there, but for full body figure sculpting, this is the course to choose.

Booking link click here

2016-01-26 14:53:41

Symposium: Anatomy Modelling This Sat Jan 30

Symposium: Anatomy Modelling
Saturday 30 January 2016 10:00am

Covering the full scope of anatomical modelling across multiple materials and species, this study day offers the opportunity to learn more about the design, creation and use of anatomical models. Delegates will also have the opportunity to engage with makers and modellers to discover the creative process involved in the modern creation of anatomical models. Featuring speakers from across the heritage sector and a keynote by Dr Elizabeth Hallam; editor of the new RCS volume Designing Bodies: Models of Human Anatomy from Wax to Plastics.

Speakers: Dr Elizabeth Hallam (Aberdeen), Miranda Lowe (Natural History Museum), Dr Anna Maerker (Kings College London), Annette Townsend (National Museums Wales), Eleanor Crook (Sculptor), Clare Rangeley (Modeller).
Chairs: Dr Sam Alberti (RCS)

A draft programme is available to download.

Tickets £38/26 (concessions: students, RCS fellows, members & affiliates.) Includes all refreshments and delegates lunch. Booking is essential on 020 7869 6568.

Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE

Tube: Holborn

Contact the museum here

2015-12-05 11:59:25

The Virginia Woolf Waxwork Now Installed At King's College London

Eleanor's waxwork of Virginia Woolf is now permanently installed in the entrance hall of the Virginia Woolf Building of King's College London, 22 Kingsway, London WC2B 6LE. The commission was devised by Prof Clare Brant and Dr Ruth Richardson for the Centre for Life-Writing research. The statue's outfit is based on a series of photographs taken in 1923 by Lady Ottoline Morell and it holds a copy of Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" , a facsimile first edition with a book jacket designed by her sister Vanessa Bell. ( Actually Eleanor's old copy of a Loeb Propertius.) The site is close to the Bloomsbury Theatre and the Strand campus of King's College, where Woolf studied Classics and attended lectures. The statue was unveiled last month with attendees from the Virginia Woolf Society .

Woolf herself had an interest in wax effigies which is explored in the essay "Waxing into Words: Virginia Woolf and the Funeral Effigies at Westminster Abbey" by Leena Kore Schröder of The University of Nottingham

Link to Schroder's essay

2015-11-24 00:51:15

Renaissance Wax Modelling Demo At The V&A Museum

This Sunday 29 Nov Eleanor will give a public demonstration of wax modelling , inspired by 16th century wax maquettes from the Museum's collection. Drop in sessions, all welcome. 11.00 - 13.00 then 14.00 - 1600. More details and booking ( although you can just pop in we believe) at the bottom of the V & A's What's On page for Nov 29, here

Image : A wax model attributed to Michelangelo Buonarotti in the Museum's store

Click here and scroll down page to Workshops

2015-10-26 08:46:46

Hold The Dates! Upcoming Workshops And Lessons

I have recently been asked about opportunities to learn wax modelling, anatomy art and sculpture about the human body with me in the coming year and thought I would post here a quick idea of what's in the pipeline.

The most intensive courses I will teach to the public this year are at the Ruskin summer schools with myself and Sarah Simblet in Oxford in July and September 2016 , dates to be announced soon

Occasional one day courses with the Clod Ensemble, date this year to be confirmed,

An upcoming day demonstrating renaissance style wax modelling, at the V & A in London ( Nov 29)

Wax modelling and Anatomy Museum workshops weekend at the Vrolik museum in Amsterdam ( around 15 April 2016)

a one off "forensic facial reconstruction" day at the Hunterian Museum in London ( Feb 6 2016)

Please drop me a line if you are interested in any of these courses. I am not currently able to offer one to one tuition at the studio although this does happen occasionally.

2015-07-09 13:52:35

And The Band Played On At The Gordon Museum

Eleanor's band of soldiers from four wars showing the advances in reconstructive plastic surgery are on show this Summer at the Gordon Museum of Pathology at Guy's Hospital, London. This museum is open only to members and students of the medical and medical art and Forensics professions. Eleanor is artist in Residence at the museum and the heads of the soldiers were largely modelled upon the curator's desk in the office upstairs, while the collection and its wax models were used for reference and research.

Gordon Museum website click here

2015-06-22 09:01:27

Sculpting Anatomy Workshop 18 July 2015 Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff

18 July 2015 11am - 5pm
Wales Millennium Centre (Sony Room), Bute Place, Cardiff CF10 5AL

Wax modelling is a technique for replicating skin, flesh and anatomical structures that dates back centuries. In this workshop with artist Eleanor Crook, you’ll see historical examples from museums before practicing sculpting a 50% lifesize head portrait in wax from a live sitter that you will model yourself and take home with you. All materials will be provided and all levels of experience are welcome.

Image: Jean-Antoine Houdon sculpting the bust of First Consul Bonaparte, painted by Boilly

Book tickets and more info , click here

2015-06-09 07:44:50

Facial Muscles Modelling Class At The Hunterian

15 plaster faces were adorned with wax facial muscles by a class of artists and surgeons at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London this week as Eleanor demonstrated and gave instructions. The class was especially conversational with great contributions from the medical experts present which added a whole new dimension to the anatomical discussion, including a debate on the blood supply of the nasal septum, an insider's account of replacing burst eardrums with tiny patches of temporal fascia, the directions adopted by facial skin wrinkling, the elasticity of the orbicularis oculi and how it behaves when the palpebral ligaments are detached, and celebrity plastic surgery outcomes. The resulting wax faces were full of personality and uncanny animation. Many thanks to the Clod Ensemble and the Hunterian for hosting the session.

2015-04-06 22:45:14

Head And Neck Forensic And Portrait Course

I just spent much of Easter with my calipers in hand, modelling a lifesize skull in wax, copying faithfully from a real (old and anonymous) one to teach the Forensic facial reconstruction section of my intensive Head and Neck / Forensic & Portrait course at the Ruskin in Oxford this summer. Every participant gets a copy of it in hard plaster to sculpt over and keep. It is an interesting individual with a long horsey face and rather protruding teeth. I wonder what he will look like when we've given him facial muscles, soft tissue and skin, in wax?

Course details click here, halfway down new page