Visual anthropology and One Health

Work by Olivia Howland, a PDRA on the HORN Project, has been selected for exhibition at the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Illustrating Anthropology exhibition.  The exhibition is currently online and latterly will be a physical exhibition in London.  Olivia is an ethnographer and visual artist, and the selected works are portraits of participants in various research projects she has worked on over the last few years.

Visual anthropology is the use of images, be they drawings, paintings, photographs or notebook scribbles, by participants or the researcher, which can be a way to record data, present data, or communicate something about the research to diverse audiences.

Olivia works primarily in oils or acrylics on canvas or board, painting portraits of the people she meets or landscapes from her research.  Olivia’s work has previously been exhibited in a solo exhibition at the Sheffield Winter Gardens as part of the 2017 ESRC Festival of Social Science.

By painting portraits and landscapes from research projects, and using photography in anthropology, it is possible to communicate research to a more diverse audience than written words alone would allow.  Olivia has successfully used photography to communicate One Health research on the HORN Project in 2019 through the Hakuna Dawa Tamu//A Bitter Pill exhibition with photographer Biko Wesa.  Indeed, one of the chosen portraits for the RAI exhibition is of the healer Mama Rose, who uses aloe and tobacco to heal problems with the spleen in people in her community.

Through painting portraits and sharing participants’ stories, Olivia aims to share knowledge of One Health and indigenous skills with broad audiences outside of academia.

Visit the Illustrating Anthropology online exhibition here

Visit Olivia’s contribution to this exhibition here

More information on the ‘A Bitter Pill’ exhibition is available here