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The Heart of the Matter

Sophie Layton, Rubix Heart 1, 2018. Photo by Stephen King.

The Heart of the Matter is an exhibition that brings together art and medicine to reflect on the human heart.

The heart can symbolise romantic love and the centre of human emotion, but it is also the engine room of our body and an intricate piece of machinery. Through artworks inspired by patients with heart conditions, their families and clinicians, the exhibition invites you to discover the extraordinary nature and complexity of this organ.

The Heart of The Matter began with a collaboration between artist Sofie Layton and bioengineer Giovanni Biglino. In 2017, they brought together patients with heart conditions at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, the Bristol Heart Institute and the Adult Congenital & Paediatric Heart Unit of the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, to look at the heart emotionally and metaphorically in workshops with scientists, artists, students, and nurses. Conversations and stories from these workshops in turn inspired artworks that offer insight into the heart’s beauty, fragility and resilience, using scientific and artistic methods. Medical 3D printing and topographical maps describe cardiovascular anatomy; digital animation responds to medical imaging; and other abstracted stories are given form in printed textiles, sound installations and sculpture.

The Heart of the Matter was conceived by artist Sofie Layton and bioengineer Giovanni Biglino, and developed with health psychologist Jo Wray. The work is produced by Susie Hall (GOSH Arts), Nicky Petto and Anna Ledgard in association with Artsadmin, and is supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, Above&Beyond, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. With thanks to RapidformRCA and 3D Life Print.

The exhibition is on view at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle from 24 March – 6 May 2018, and tours to Bristol (Summer 2018) and London (Autumn 2018).

Explore the exhibition online.

Listen to an interview about the exhibition with artist Sofie Layton on Monocle24.


Please contact to request a marketing pack or for press enquiries.

Events Programme

The Making Of…
Saturday 24 March, 2-4pm, Great North Museum: Hancock
Meet with the patients, artists, producers and medical professionals involved in The Heart of the Matter, a two-year collaborative project that resulted in this unique exhibition.

Heart to Heart with the heart specialists
Wednesday 4 April, 12 noon–2pm, Great North Museum: Hancock
Meet a cardiologist and specialist cardiology nurse from the Freeman Hospital as well as artist Sofie Layton and bio-engineer Dr Giovanni Biglino. Find out how each of them works with this extraordinary and complex organ – the human heart.

3D Printing drop in
Thursday 5 April, 11am–2pm, Great North Museum: Hancock
Bioengineer and exhibition co-creator Dr Giovanni Biglino (Bristol Heart Institute and Great Ormond Street Hospital) will be available in The Heart of the Matter exhibition space to show models and talk about the use of 3D printing in heart diagnosis and treatment.

Seminar: 3D printing technologies in medical settings
Thursday 5 April, 2.30-3.30pm, Great North Museum: Hancock
This seminar explores different aspects of 3D printing technology in a medical context. This new exciting technology allows us to create replicas of hearts and vessels which can then be used to plan procedures, design new devices and to aid discussions with patients and families during clinical consultations. Models, as shown in The Heart of the Matter exhibition, can also be used in more creative ways. The seminar will present the many facets of 3D printing from different perspectives – patients, healthcare professionals, researchers and industry.


Date and time

24 March – 6 May 2018

Please note
This is now a past event.


Great North Museum: Hancock