News at Medicine - February 2015 - Crafting a medical legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador

Crafting a medical legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador
February 25, 2015
For almost 50 years, the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial has been helping to mould young physicians and create research, teaching and clinical opportunities to shape a healthy tomorrow for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
To celebrate this and the opening of the new Medical Education Centre on the St. John’s campus, Dr. James Rourke, dean, Faculty of Medicine, and his wife Dr. Leslie Rourke wanted to commission a piece of artwork.

“My wife Leslie and I wanted a legacy piece to celebrate the connection between the Faculty of Medicine and our province,” said Dean Rourke. “A piece of medical history that depicted how health care and the Faculty of Medicine have shaped Newfoundland and Labrador, and furthermore, how the history, landscape and people of this province have influenced how we practise medicine.”

After much thought and discussion with people involved with many types of art, it was at the Royal British Columbia Museum that the couple saw a concept that spoke to their vision: murals of clay tiles crafted by amateur students. They saw the potential to have people connected with the faculty create a piece of art incorporating meaningful depictions of medicine and health across the province.
Crafting a Legacy could be called a "clay quilt," with artistic contributions from past and present students, faculty and staff of the Faculty of Medicine and two local professional artists, all under the instruction of celebrated mural artist and art educator Lynda Faulks.
“The Faculty of Medicine, from its beginning, has emphasized working together,” said Dr. Rourke. “Therefore, it was important to us that this project could involve many who have been connected in different ways to the faculty.”
Dean Rourke himself created a tile for the mural, titled Grenfell Legacy, about the contributions Sir Wilfred Grenfell made to medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The young Wilfred Grenfell is at the heart of my tile,” he said. “He symbolizes for me pioneer doctors heading into unknown places and challenges to use all of their knowledge, skills and dedication to care for the patients, families and communities most in need.”

The clay mural, located in the atrium in the Medical Education Centre, was unveiled at an event on Feb. 10, in front of more than one hundred guests. Attendees included President Kachanoski, his wife Teresa Kachanoski, Mary House, widow of the late Dr. Maxwell House, and many others from the medical and arts communities.
“Both the project and the artwork created for the atrium have far exceeded our dreams,” said Dean Rourke. “To have a dream come true better than was dreamed is truly a wonderful thing. We are thrilled that this wonderful piece of art will be enjoyed for years to come.”

To complement the mural, a commemorative book was produced, which contains a summary of the timeline of the creation of the mural, how the idea came to be, why it was created and the purpose. Written in the words of each artist, it gives the reader an in-depth explanation of each panel and its significance and why they chose to participate in the project. The book is available for viewing here.