When art meets science: exhibition on sexual dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction has made many people suffer in silence, a provocative art exhibition in Cardiff hopes to bring new thinking and ways of communication towards sexual health.

Provocative drawing on display
Provocative drawing on display

Nude people, exaggerated face expressions and some strong colours squeezing in frames, these are what you see when walking into the Bayart gallery. You may feel the paintings ‘shocking’ and hard to understand. It is Sue William’s way of exploring pain, pleasure, disease and psychological issues caused by sexual dysfunction.

Sue Williams, award-winning Welsh visual artist has been doing a project combining art and sexual health together, called THROB. Cooperating with erectile dysfunction specialist and cardiologist Dr Nick Ossei-Gerning, who brought his expertise into the project, they have created a series of conversations, exhibitions and performances.

Drawing on display
Drawing on display

“My work is about human dysfunction such as sexual dysfunction, it fits comfortably in Nick’s work,” says Sue, “he deals with the mechanical parts and I deal with the emotional parts.”

The unique project meant to bring artistic and medical world together to lift the taboo of talking sexual dysfunction using a mixture of music, drawing, and poetry and stage performance, according to Sue. “Through exploring issues related to erectile dysfunction, I want to gain knowledge of the emotional impact of sexual and family relationships, and how both males and females are made vulnerable through the lack of open conversation and communications about this difficult subject,” she explains on her website.

Firstly inspired by Dr Nick Ossei-Gerning’s public speeches about his work regarding erectile dysfunction, Sue has been working on this project for about 3 years.

“I want to get to grips with issues that affect a search for a fulfilling satisfying and happy sexual life. I want to show the absurdity and tragedy of the subject and I want this work to push new artistic boundaries in a wider theatre and society context. Perhaps even banish a few taboos along the way,” she says.

Sue's work MR and MRS at the gallery
Sue’s work MR and MRS at the gallery

Erectile dysfunction (ED), which is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity, is a very common condition, particularly among older men. It is estimated that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer it to some degree.

“It is my passion as a clinician to raise the profile of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and to create a better understanding of the trauma that this problem can cause to many as a harbinger of heart disease, as well as its devastating effects upon men and women’s relationships,” says Dr Nick

“Practiced as a cardiologist for 12 years, I have noticed 2 out of 3 patients who have ED had the cardiology disease, and they had the erectile dysfunction before the cardiology disease” says Dr Nick. “So if you have pick up ED, it means your body is sending you a message that you may have cardiology disease, man should not be embraced to talk about it.”

Erectile dysfunction has made many people suffer in silence, Dr Nick and Sue believe it is a perfect opportunity to raise people’s attention and bring new thinking’s of communication about this crucial subject in a more accessible and artistic way.

He also says that “I’ve been trying to send this message out to help with the patients, but for the last ten years, the message has been very slow to get across, so I then linked up with Sue, who was also quite interested in this subject. Basically, it was just using varies of art forms, other media to tell the story of ED, with the view of disseminating the message. “

From October last year, the project had been exhibited in different forms for three times. The fourth event, the art-meet-science exhibition THROB: FREELY in Cardiff Bayart Gallery is going through 6 February to 4 March. Produced and presented by a creative team, it includes not only drawings, paintings and installations, but also a live film.

The film Sue made to express people's feeling about their sex
The film Sue made to express people’s feeling about their sex

Currently interviewing patients with Dr Nick, Sue hopes to bring interviewee’s story to stage if possible in the future. “I want to show the absurdity and tragedy of the subject and I want this work to push new artistic boundaries in a wider theatre and society context. Perhaps even banish a few taboos along the way,” Sue says.

Erectile Dysfunction


Former Exhibitions:

The first exhibition of this project THROB: TOUCHY started 8th October 2015.

The second was an engaging, lively presentation of new music, poetry and dance called THOROB: EXPOSURE in 8 November.

The third one was THROB: PERFORMANCE, A provocative innovative, sensual and controversial performance in cabaret-style, when love & hate, pain & pleasure crash together in a daring mix of multi-disciplinary art forms and medical science in 13 November 2015.

For more information, visit No More Pink.