Anne Adams’ art


Over the past three days, I’ve read two fascinating stories about Vancouver artist Anne Adams who died in 2007. First I read Boléro: Beautiful symptom of a terrible disease in the NewScientist.

Today, I’m looking at the Vancouver Sun’s page and a half feature on this remarkable woman. (The web version is a short one.)

It’s a tragic yet inspiring story of a former University of British Columbia scientist who came down with a rare brain disease later in life, a form of aphasia and dementia that produced spurts of artistic activity. She abandoned science for art, producing a large body of work, most notably Unravelling Boléro, a bar-by-bar representation Ravel’s Boléro (shown above).

Scientists who monitored the progressions of the disease found fascinating new details of how the brain rebuilds other areas to make up for damaged ones.

And here’s the jaw-dropper: Ravel is thought to have suffered from the same condition, which may have drawn him towards repetitive patterns such as the themes that cycle through Boléro. Adams was unaware of this, and of her own condition, while working on her painting.

We can find out more about Anne Adams and her work at her website, including the Book of Invertebrates which was honoured with a full page in the Sun. In addition the Patient Art Gallery website of the Memory and Aging Center of the University of Califormia at San Francisco has some lovely examples including the above image.

With some family history of dementia and Parkinson’s, I sometimes worry what might happen to me in my old age. If I were struck by this disease, will I turn from being an artist into a scientist? Seriously.

April 9, 2008 in Music, Other artists by Marja-Leena