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Rebecca Ivatts

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Rebecca Ivatts

Rebecca Ivatts

Brain imaging came as an epiphany - a springboard for the imagination

Artist Rebecca Ivatts recently visited Headway Oxfordshire for an exhibition of her brain-inspired artwork.

We spoke to Rebecca about her paintings, her inspiration and her plans for the future.

Rebecca’s love of art began during childhood. “As I child I always drew and was obsessed with colour” she says.

“My father was a biologist and this instilled in me a love for the natural world.”

Rebecca’s interest in the natural world inspired her to focus her drawing and painting on the nude and human anatomy.

During four years spent living and studying painting in Madrid, Rebecca was inspired by the Spanish bold, visceral style. “I love that in their art they don’t shy from the dark side of life”, she says.

When asked why the brain became a focus of her work Rebecca recalls: “With my first child the antenatal scans struck me as a thing of great painterly mystery.

“I spoke to a friend who is a radiologist and she talked me through the different types of brain scan. Brain imaging came as an epiphany – a springboard for the imagination, for finding the ‘out there’ through the ‘in here’.

“In parallel I started reading lots of neuroscience books and thought ‘wow this is fascinating’”.

Describing her thoughts when looking at the brain imaging Rebecca says: “I peered into white and grey matter and saw dense ‘gardens’ inhabited by bodies, ghosts and constellations”.

Rebecca stood next to a painting

She explains that, through her brain works, she hopes to depict new ways of seeing ourselves and understanding certain conditions, such as stroke.

As we all know, a strong image can speak 1000 words. I try to integrate new imagery and concepts that are constantly being generated by neuroscience.
Headway Oxfordshire exhibition

Rebecca’s exhibition at Headway Oxfordshire showcased ten paintings from her public engagement project sponsored by Brain Journal. Helped by stroke and neuro rehab academics at Oxford University, Rebecca created a series of images focusing on the brain.

In celebration of Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week campaign on fatigue many of the works focused on fatigue and the role of sleep in recovery.

Headway Oxfordshire said, "We were very happy to welcome Rebecca during Action for Brain Injury week and host the workshop and exhibition for our service-users and the local community. It's always fantastic to collaborate with the local community, to help communicate and raise awareness of brain injury in many different forms".


Alongside her exhibition, Rebecca held a drawing workshop with service-users at Headway Oxfordshire.

Rebecca says: “The workshop was fantastic. There were lots of talented draughtsmen in the room!”

"The aim of the workshop was to get people drawing and to show that brain injury should not be a barrier to art.

“For those who have suffered some form of brain injury, my advice would be to simply pick up a felt tip and paper and just practise tracing the contours of objects while looking at them and NOT at your paper. This is the basic premise of good drawing – to be engaged with what’s in front of you and not concerned with what’s on your paper. Repeat this like a form of fun rehab exercise and your drawing and the quality of your looking will come on leaps and bounds.”

Rebecca hopes to continue showcasing her artwork in Oxford and even has plans to take her stroke works to London.

Headway Oxfordshire workshop
I have two very contrasting projects in the pipeline too, one relating to dementia and the other to the neuroscience of meditation – so watch this space!
Stroke painting
brain art

You can find out more about Rebecca's work by clicking here to visit her website.


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