Helen Han is a IV Year Bachelor of Medicine student, currently undertaking her research placement at Liverpool Hospital. Not only is Helen a dedicated student but also a keen artist, a passion she has cultivated since childhood.

Last year, Helen submitted two artworks in a student mural design competition organised by Estate Management to bring a new lease on life on existing spaces within the Wallace Wurth and John Goodsell buildings. The design brief required the artworks to be reflective of an inclusive and diverse learning environment, evoking a dynamic feeling of positivity. The murals for two spaces inside Wallace Wurth needed to show consideration of the specific student-facing locations within the different research and academic areas of the building.

Helen’s first work, entitled ‘Cell Culture' (pictured below) was created for the Lower Ground floor of Wallace Wurth. Inspired by her histology class, she learned about the interactive nature of molecules. She added human features to cells on a histology slide, using different shapes to compare the interrelationship of molecules to a community of human beings. Helen used the purple and pink tones of the iconic H&E stain, the most widely used stain in medical diagnosis, to allow the design to remain readable as a histological slide.

Helen’s second design, entitled ‘Celebrating diversity’ (pictured above), was created with the School of Biomedical Sciences firmly in mind. She wanted to weave together the concept of diversity with a DNA strand as the foundation of medicine. She appropriated the image of DNA into streamers, creating a sense of festivity and celebration, using bright colours to represent diversity. The nucleotides became arms, reaching out and grasping one another, showing the importance of inclusion and togetherness as the foundation of humanity.

For this design in particular, Helen was very conscious of where the mural would be housed - a long corridor without natural light. As a student in Wallace Wurth, she often felt this ground floor corridor was dark and cramped. She used a bright white background to give the area a certain freshness and chose not to clutter the design with too many elements. “I chose to centre my design around a very organic, flowing line instead of stagnant imagery,” Helen explained. “I wanted to connect the long space together and to create a sense of motion.”

Both of Helen’s designs won first place in the competition and have now been installed on the ground floor and lower ground floor of the Wallace Wurth building. When asked if she has any more artworks planned, Helen responded, “I will always be drawing.”

Helen’s advice to new students starting out in UNSW Medicine & Health is to enjoy all the times together on campus and look for opportunities to get involved in all the different activities on offer. “There is no reason why you can’t maintain other hobbies while studying to become a doctor.”

Interested in seeing the murals?

'Cell Culture' is located on the lower ground floor of the Wallace Wurth building (turn right when exiting the lifts).

'Celebrating Diversity' is located on the ground floor of the Wallace Wurth building, the first corridor on the left when exiting from Michael Birt Lawn. 

'Cell Culture' mural by Helen Han UNSW Sydney