For Oliver Burston, Crohn's disease was akin to living like a skeleton—emaciated and overcome by a sense of frailty. Like many people who suffer from chronic illness, the list of his symptoms and ailments didn't do justice to the pain he felt in being attacked by his own body.
In order to express the physical and emotional pain of living with Crohn's, he created a computer-generated image titled "Stickman—The Vicissitudes of Crohn's (Resolution)," which so powerfully demonstrated his affliction that it won him the highest honours in the 2017 Wellcome Image Awards.
Created using a combination of CGI and illustration, the image depicted a skeletal frame, representing the weight loss often associated with Crohn's. The disease is caused by an inflammation of the digestive system, and sufferers often experience pain in the digestive area, along with extreme fatigue. The sticks protruding just below the ribs in Burston's illustration represent how a flare up can seemingly attack one's own body.
A stick thrust into the earth and a hare cradled in a background tree represent Burston's sense of hope and regeneration.
“This image is a stunning representation of what it must be like to have Crohn’s disease and it’s like nothing I’ve seen before in terms of the portrayal of someone’s condition," said Fergus Walsh, a BBC medical correspondent and judging panel member, in a press release. "It conveys the pain and torment the sufferer must go through."
The awards have been held for more than 20 years and differ from traditional photography contests by allowing submissions to encompass any type of creative imagery. The contest is supported by Wellcome, a global nonprofit whose library is an expansive resource of medical images, documents, and illustrations.
This year's submissions included mediums such as photography, illustrations, super-resolution microscopy, and medical scans.
The contest also recognises clinical photography with the Julie Dorrington Award. This year's recipient was Mark Bartley, for his extremely close view of an iris clip inserted in an eye to treat nearsightedness and cataracts. The 70-year-old patient whose eye was photographed regained nearly all his vision following the surgery.
Other notable entries included a digital illustration of Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini, scans showing intricate blood vessels inside a grey parrot, and a data visualisation of how breast cancer is discussed on Twitter.
Nine judges selected a total of 22 images to recognise for their achievements in creating imagery that displays scientific ideas as art. Wellcome Images also partnered with the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research to share and source their pool of submissions.
Exhibitions of the winning images will tour across the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa. A full list of venues can be found here.
Titled "Stickman – The Vicissitudes of Crohn’s (Resolution)," Oliver Burston illustrates his experience living with Crohn's disease.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SPOOKY POOKA, 2017 WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This intraocular lens "iris clip" is used to treat near sightedness and cataracts. This patient regained nearly full vision after undergoing this surgery.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK BARTLEY, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
A CT scan of this grey parrot uses x-rays to show blood vessels and bones. The mass of blood seen just below the neck helps the bird regulate its body temperature through thermoregulation.
IMAGE BY SCOTT ECHOLS, SCARLET IMAGING AND THE GREY PARROT ANATOMY PROJECT, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Using the hashtag #breastcancer, these notes and lines represent the conversations had among Twitter users. Dot sizes vary by an individual user's online presence and connections.
ILLUSTRATION BY ERIC CLARKE, RICHARD ARNETT AND JANE BURNS, ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS IN IRELAND, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This digital illustration was created using an electronic pen and depicts Rita Levi-Montalcini. She received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her part in discovering nerve growth factor.
ILLUSTRATION BY DARIA KIRPACH, SALZMAN INTERNATIONAL, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This image was made using a technique called confocal microscopy in which lights (usually lasers) are stacked to create a 3D reconstruction of a microscopic image. Shown here is an embryonic mouse's developing spinal cord.
IMAGE BY GABRIEL GALEA, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
A man receives an eye exam inside a makeshift eye clinic created by the non-profit Unite For Sight. The charity aims to improve global eye health and has provided over 90,000 cataract surgeries.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SUSAN SMART, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This Hawaiian bobtail squid was photographed using a technique called photomacrography, which uses specialised lenses and multiple stitched images to create a highly detailed picture. The baby squid shown is approximately 1.5 centimetres across.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK R SMITH, MACROSCOPIC SOLUTIONS, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
White matter neural pathways connect the two regions in the brain responsible for language. This 3D model was created with a scan of the brain using a technique known as tractography
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHANIE J FORKEL AND AHMAD BEYH, NATBRAINLAB, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON; ALFONSO DE LARA RUBIO, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
A full 2,933 images, 0.1 millimetres thick, were taken with CT scans to create X-rays that show blood vessels and bones inside an African grey parrot. Digital imaging software added texture to the model.
ILLUSTRATION BY SCOTT BIRCH AND SCOTT ECHOLS, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Confocal microscopy shows the developmental stages of mouse placentas. The placentas were stained to show three different proteins: blue represents the nucleus; red shows the presence of blood vessels; and green indicates the presence of trophoblasts, the first cells present in an embryo.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SUCHITA NADKARNI, WILLIAM HARVEY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Using a technique called scanning electron microscopy, researchers beam electrons to illuminate microRNAs. These genetic sequences control the growth and function of cells and are being studied as a possible cancer therapy.
IMAGE BY JOÃO CONDE, NURIA OLIVA AND NATALIE ARTZI, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Using confocal microscopy, researchers show how neural stem cells grow on a synthetic gel called PEG.
ILLUSTRATION BY COLLIN EDINGTON AND IRIS LEE, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
In Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, more than half the adult population is afflicted with chronic kidney disease—it accounts for 75 percent of deaths in men aged 35-55. Here two brothers stand in an alley. They lost two of their cousins to kidney disease.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSHUA MCDONALD, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Super-resolution shows the nucleus of one of two recently divided DNA cells.
IMAGE BY EZEQUIEL MIRON, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This digital art illustrates tube-like channels spanning the membrane of the cell. The spheres represent cargo moving through a cell.
ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL NORTHROP, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Researchers used CT scans and 3D printing to create this model of a mini-pig's eye. The indent on the right is the pupil, which allows light into the eye. The left side of the model shows the blood vessels in the muscles around the iris.
IMAGE BY PETER M MALOCA, OCTLAB AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BASEL AND MOORFIELDS EYE HOSPITAL, LONDON; CHRISTIAN SCHWALLER; RUSLAN HLUSHCHUK, UNIVERSITY OF BERN; SÉBASTIEN BARRÉ, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This zebrafish embryo has been injected with a dyed red gene that scientists hope to manipulate to see how the fish changes schooling behaviours or predator responses. The image was taken using confocal microscopy.
IMAGE BY INGRID LEKK AND STEVE WILSON, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
This painting, titled "Hidden Learning," was taken from the Chrysalis project, a movement aimed at bringing together women scientists. One of the project's goals is to look at how creativity influences research.
ILLUSTRATION BY SOPHIE MCKAY KNIGHT, UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS , CHRYSALIS PROJECT COORDINATED BY MHAIRI STEWART, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Confocal microscopy captures the retina of a mouse. Retinas are at the back of the eye and are responsible for converting light into nerve signals.
IMAGE BY GABRIEL LUNA, NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Caricatural medieval medical practitioners.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MADELEINE KUIJPER, MADELEINE KUIJPER ILLUSTRATIES, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS
Header Image: Polarized light microscopy splits light travelling through different materials in different directions, creating a range of colour. These colours show the different types of tissue in a section of cat skin. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID LINSTEAD, WELLCOME IMAGE AWARDS