A few months ago, we said that cosmetic dentists are artists. Now we know that this kind of assertion always brings a little eye roll from some people who are skeptical that the mundane dentist is capable of artistic sensibilities. Now, though, a former dentist whose painting has been short-listed for the UK’s most famous painting award, the John Moores Painting Prize confirms that many dentists do in fact have artistic sensibilities within.

Mandy Payne’s “Brutal”

Mandy Payne served as a dentist for the National Health Service for 25 years until she retired from dentistry in 2012 to pursue her art full-time. She had been studying art since 2007, but she had always had a side interest in it. Her nominated work focuses on the Park Hill flats in Sheffield, what she describes as the best example of brutalist architecture in Britain. She says that what drew her to the complex is the recurring layers of human experience embodied in its concrete structures that is simultaneously living in three phases of the urban life cycle: some inhabitants still dwell in it fulfilling its original residential purpose, while other parts are decrepit and have been boarded up, while still other parts have been renovated into luxury flats. This creates what she describes as a palimpsest of the human urban experience, multiple layers of life written one on top of the other. The work does more than just portray Park Hill, it embodies it, utilizing a concrete canvas and spray paint, “materials that are integral to the estate itself,” in the words of the artist.

John Moores Painting Prize

The John Moores Painting Prize is one of the oldest, best known, and lucrative painting prizes in the UK. Founded in 1957 by businessman and philanthropist Sir John Moores–who also founded the Littlewoods chain of retail stores and football (soccer) betting pools–the prize is offered only every two years by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The prize comes with a £25,000 cash award.

Art and Dentistry

Payne’s “Brutal” carries over many of the values that cosmetic dentists into art. The choice of a brutalist subject matter, an architectural style that foregrounds strength and functionality emphasizes the role of functional and durable restoration in cosmetic dentistry. The fascination with decay and reconstruction is also a dental value that crosses over into the piece. The use of symmetry and proportion in the painting are just as important to dental work, if not more so, than to art. And it is no surprise that Payne chooses to work in something other than simple paint and brush because dentists create their art in enamel and ceramic on a daily basis. If you want to learn how your smile can be a work of art, please schedule an appointment with our cosmetic dentists in Spokane or Spokane Valley by calling 509-581-4188 or 509-927-2273, respectively.