I have a medical friend who once told me of his coming of age. In the final year of study, he was required to work in a hospital ward to cut his medical teeth. My friend’s epiphany occurred when he attended his first death. Doctors are required to ascertain that a person has truly died before they sign the death certificate. There is a ritual where a variety of organ functions are checked before the death is officially confirmed. In my friends instance, he walked into a silent room. The southern European family sat mute and anxious around the body. Not a word was said. All eyes were on my friend as he carefully checked that the patient had indeed died. My friend is a bower bird. He always carries a fountain pen. He pulled his fountain pen from his pocket and carefully signed the death certificate. At that very moment, the entire room broke out in wailing and tears. The enormity of the passing of the patient had been confirmed on paper, and the family were allowed to mourn.
It was at this point that my friend realised that modern medicine had taken the place of religion in some respect. There was a time when the priest would be called to perform the last rights, and the family would mourn. This time, it was not the priest that initiated the mourning process, but my friend, the doctor, with his fountain pen.
This painting depicts the Staff of Caduceus, the symbol adopted by the medical profession in modern times. The proper symbol for healing is actually the Rod of Asclepius, but we shall leave that for another story. Let’s just say the symmetry of the Staff of Caduceus is more suited to a logo than the asymmetrical Rod of Asclepius.
This piece had finer detail sandblasted into the surface before applying black enamel linework to the reverse side of the glass. Coloured acrylic was then airbrushed over the linework, before flipping the glass.