“Life is short, the art is long.”So wrote Hippocrates. Life is now longer thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, some of which have been created by Sir Roy Calne. Calne, an award-winning transplant surgeon, has contributed to life as well as art – making both longer and fuller. In addition to numerous international accolades – including two Nobel Prize nominations – Calne is a consummate artist. He is a fearless explorer, invigorated by challenge. When Calne first started to experiment in transplant surgery, he was breaking new ground: surgical kidney transplants had been attempted but very few successful. His successes in such surgeries revolutionised the field.
As a child, Calne was fascinated by drawing and by colour. Whilst going on to excel in the field of medicine, he continued to paint. In 1988, famed Scottish painter, John Bellany became a patient after receiving a successful liver transplant executed by Calne. The artist gave the surgeon art lessons and through this exchange, Calne realized more fully the connection offered through painting. “I thought as a surgeon – painting patients- nobody has done this before, and that’s really what got me. I like to do new things; I have always been stimulated by being told you can’t do it or it’s difficult and you shouldn’t do it, or that other people haven’t done it.” Bellany and Calne became life-long friends.
As an artist, he has challenged himself to work in a variety of mediums, including bronze and digital prints. For his much anticipated 2017 solo, Bloom, he created 10 digital images as signed prints. He studied and painted scenes from the Calnes’ private garden, an exquisitely landscaped space in Cambridge, home to his family for over 50 years. It was appropriate that he revisited this important and natural influence, into which his studios peer, not only in literal meaning but as analogy for his illustrious career and life, filled with Bloom. He has exhibited at SGFA since 1998 and his work has also been featured at the Barbican Gallery, UK.