Dr Philip Kilner

Goetheanism Course

About Philip Kilner

After studying medicine and working as a junior doctor, Philip lived and worked in Camphill communities, and in Klinik Oeschelbronn in Germany. From childhood, he had been as drawn to art as to natural science. He began to appreciate the synergies between them more fully as he was introduced to Goethean science. He attended a summer school with Jochen Bockemuehl and studied sculpture and flow with John Wilkes and Rudolf Kaesbach at Emerson College (1979-80). The shaping of rhythmically moving streams in ‘Flowforms’ led to his enduring interest in the human heart. Having devised and filmed flow demonstrations relevant to heart function, he was awarded a British Heart Foundation grant to research fluid dynamics in relation to heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. This work contributed to the development of ‘total cavo-pulmonary connection’, a streamlined variant, now practiced worldwide, of ‘Fontan’ surgery for children born with one instead of two effective ventricles in the heart.

In 1988 he moved to Royal Brompton Hospital and the National Heart and Lung Institute of Imperial College, London, to continue heart research and diagnostic imaging by cardiovascular magnetic resonance. His PhD on ‘The morphodynamics of flow through the heart’ led to a paper published in the journal Nature and laid a foundation for his on-going studies of heart form and movement. After 30 years of work in London hospitals and now based at Emerson College, Philip’s attention is broadening to questions of flowing form, transformations and inter-relationships in organisms, our environment, and in the visual arts and geometry.

Two contributions that Philip has made to BBC broadcasts are accessible online:

Two minute extract from "Heart versus mind: what makes us human?"

"What scientists believe": 28 minute audio, interviewed by Stephen Webster