You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘change’ tag.

Here is my very first attempt at modelling with wax. I have a lot of experience with clay but thought I would try a new material. I’ve found that I prefer the wax…it allows me much more detail and for the particular work I do – where I need to express as much emotion as I can in the figure – it is a much better medium. I built the skull first and then laid on the muscles and the flesh as in an ecorche. I finished the piece over three days of work. This first effort will definitely not be the last!

IMG_0774IMG_0777The piece is based on Kostoglotov, the main protagonist in Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. He and I have become close friends since I have been drawing and painting him for the Cancer Ward 12 project!

Even though the Cancer Ward 12 show is now over the project continues. I am working on a publication relating to the work done to date. This, alongside a book based on the Drawing Women’s Cancer project is keeping me busy, but I still need to draw and paint, (and now model with wax ), the emotional spaces in between scientific anatomy and existential experience to keep my creative insanity at an acceptable level!

 

Here is a just finished portrait. This much colour is unusual for me and I am now working on a more sombre anatomical dissection piece! More of that later.

image

and...?detail

In support of the development of my Drawing Women’s Cancer project toward working with women who have gone or are going through the experience of breast cancer I have taken what is for me an unprecendented and indeed quite scary step! I have created a Just Giving page which can be found here.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/drawingwomenscancer

You can find more details if you click on the link, and on the DWC website, but a snippet from the Just Giving page may help…

for the majority of the work I have been self-funded, and the work has taken place within the Wales area. Now I would like to expand the project to include breast cancer and take the work beyond Wales. I am totally committed to the Drawing Women’s Cancer project and from the responses and feedback I have received since the very beginning I am convinced of the necessity to continue developing the work.

Already though after only a few hours I have received some donations so I am humbly appreciative of the support out there for my work.

I am in Glasgow once again. I am working on a book that I am writing in collaboration with one of the strongest women I have ever met. She is one of the women I worked with during the early days of Drawing Women’s Cancer and I will post more about our project together on that project site as we progress.

In the meantime, while in Glasgow, my sense of family becomes very real and almost tangible to me. It is a place we call home, me, my man, and our two children – now grown into beautiful and inspiring adults. Glasgow is a city that we call home,  not through heritage but by adoption, and I still can see and feel my children with me as I walk familiar pavements. My daughter now dives in crystal waters where there is still space for her to to find what she has long been looking for. It could be on one side of the world or the other but for now she favours the  sun in Latin America, while in the ‘mutual’ middle of our worlds, in Glasgow, I can spend a little time with her brother, my son, Finn Le Marinel, still here in the rain. He is a fine musician. He peers, as I do, deep into the soul, but what he sees is expressed through what others must hear, rather than see. Nevertheless he borrows my work for the covers of his albums, but I suspect that he would not wish to use the image here. It is an older piece made around 2103, maybe 2012; memory is defeated by the unimportant. What is important is that it is a piece which, in Finn’s absence, I ‘borrowed’ from him…and altered. I may have shown it before here – it was certainly shown in Illness begins with ‘I’ – but today it takes on new significance.

abjection

IMG_0773

It has been a difficult few months. Illness and surgery have taken their toll and colours have darkened around me. Things are moving on however both in health and in practice and portraiture has been a significant part of the latter recently (see previous post). This self portrait has been through many incarnations over the months, dependent on – and at the same time being precipitative of – my state of mind. This latest version suffers in itself for the constant reworking and hides much beneath the thickness on the paint… pentimento – ghosts of myself lie uneasy underneath what I think is a finished state but, reflecting life – and death, I may yet rework the painting until it is finished only through its destruction.

 

In my work on the various projects in medical settings the making of the art, for me, is a creative act that goes beyond documentation. It is an act of empathic witness and the art itself becomes both agent and advocate of patient autonomy through its unique capacity to engage the subjective sensibilities of the viewer. This goes far beyond Alan Radley’s concept of the asymmetric relation – it is a complete immersion of one subjectivity into the world of many others and the results that are derived from such a conflagration serve only to further blur the boundaries between objective rationalism and the passionate human need to co-exist and share experience.

IMG_1690

So, for the last two weeks I have been immersed in the culture, and the sheer dynamism of the Oncology Department at Singleton Hospital in Swansea on the first stage of the Medicine Unmasked project. You can find out more about the project and follow its progress here: medicineunmasked.wordpress.com

I have been shadowing four students who are now two weeks into their five-week  ‘oncology apprenticeship’ on the Graduate Entry Medical program at Swansea University College of Medicine. Through shadowing, observing, taking notes, engaging in and recording one-to-one conversations with students and medical professionals, and generally getting the feel, from my artist’s perspective, of the students own experiences in terms of learning and teaching of their placement on the department, I have amassed copious notes, sketches and ideas that will all be used as ‘data’ for when I  return to the hospital for a further two weeks in January. During this second stage of the project I will work on a body of artwork, drawings inspired by  the process as a whole, but until then, and in the meantime, I will offer a series of posts on this blog that relate to the project both directly, as the experiential nature of the project demands, and more theoretically, as the same experiential nature of the project has encouraged! Needless to say I would appreciate any comments/feedback for the posts on this site as all such content potentially impacts on the process of the research as a whole and is therefore very valuable.

“As an experienced doctor you may have seen twenty patients who, say, have had a heart attack. But this patient has only seen one. It’s their first experience so I think that’s what we have to bear in mind.” (2nd year Student)

I want to begin by expressing my deep appreciation and gratitude to everybody I have been working with; the students themselves, the consultant oncologists that are working alongside, specialist nurses, all nurses on the wards, radiologists, staff in the hospital library, in the cafe, and indeed all hospital staff who I have met and who have been so wonderfully accommodating of someone who –  let’s face it –  must seem a slightly strange presence in the day-to-day dealings of the hospital as I sit quietly and watchfully with sketch-book or dictaphone in hand! I also owe huge thanks of course to the patients who have been so willing to let me be a witness, alongside the professionals and the medical students, to their experiences during consultation, examination and, in one case, of having a ‘shell’ made of his head in preparation for radiotherapy.

As a small group of two boys and two girls, three in their second year and one in her fourth and final year the students have enthusiastically welcomed me into their world as they tackle the demands both professional and personal of working in the department, and in the process my own learning curve has been close to vertical! As much as I have been learning about the student experience both in the specific terms of the apprenticeship model, and in the more general terms of the GEM course as a whole, I have also had the fantastic opportunity to engage with the theory, and most directly the practice of oncology in a way that has had a profound impact on my perception of myself and my practice as an artist working in medicine. It has confirmed, in a very visceral way, that this is the right place for me to be in terms of how I understand my art and what it can do.

Its going to be a fast moving few weeks I think, now the Illness begins with I exhibition is over. It turned out to be a successful show, especially in terms of the generous and sometimes humbling feedback I received. Most importantly for me it validated once again that what I am doing is worthwhile.

Now I am off to Glasgow to meet with my colleague at the University there to discuss my visit next year, and then I am very pleased to be going to Birkbeck College in London where I have been invited to present my work at the Visualising Illness workshop this weekend. http://www.bbk.ac.uk/art-history/research/visualising-illness I will be writing a review of the event on the  blogsite for Durham University Centre for Medical Humanities. This by the way is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the Medical Humanities and well worth a visit.

On Monday I will be beginning the Medicine Unmasked project as artist in residency at Swansea University and next weekend I fly to Tanzania to begin the Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula project

Finally – at least for now! – In the new year  I am delighted to have been invited to give a talk about my work and a masterclass in drawing with cadaveric material with students on the Medical and Forensic Art PG courses at Dundee University http://www.dundee.ac.uk/study/pg/medicalart/

I will be posting on the relevant websites as well as here as these projects develop…I hope you will follow to see how art and medical science continue to interrelate and it perhaps goes without saying that all comments and feedback on the work is greatly appreciated.

image copy

A friend sent me this image…it was a shock, almost, as the piece is long since destroyed as a result of weeks of storage in a damp container on a journey from Cyprus to the UK.  Sadly the image cannot provide the impact of the original, which was some 3 metres long. ‘The Last Supper’ was a reaction to 9/11, painted in the comfort of a warm sunny studio in the Mediterranean only weeks after the event and born of so many feelings and emotions I was going through at the time. It feels strange to see it now – a huge piece in which I invested so much, but which was never shown, and never left the studio – I feel almost detached, as if it was another life. If I am really honest ….I think, I feel, that it was.

IMG_1065

This drawing is another from the Drawing Women’s Cancer project (drawingcancer.wordpress.com).

It derives from a transient moment. A connection between two human beings across a clinical boundary, that was as instant as it was fleeting. A look, a glance of understanding that although calm on the surface, contained within it all the suffering, the defiance, and the compassion that mere words could never engender.

She had no hair.

We never spoke, but her voice echoes softly, resolutely, in the drawing

IMG_0900

Another January. It is now four years since I began documenting my solitary travels as an artist and I am always grateful to those who choose to travel with me, even if only for a moment. This last year has given me so much room for optimism after the disappointments that ushered it in. The Broadway Drawing School (https://www.facebook.com/BroadwayDrawing) has grown from an idea and aspiration into a small but proudly  independent art school, rapidly gaining recognition as offering an education unique in Wales. The classical and traditional merge seamlessy with the ‘now’ in our courses and workshops, and it is all about the practice, and the process, and the creativity, and yes, the ‘craft’, and the laughter, and the joy of being free of the fatuous bureaucracy that seems to pervade elsewhere, in larger, grander institutions. In the meanwhile, in-between the hours and the days that call me a teacher, I continue to reside in the transitory and fleeting moment between the objective and the subjective, which translates into the relation between medical science and art. My work is towards the frailty of humanity as engendered in the individual, the subjectivity of the experience of illness and pain. I am reading Andrzej Szczeklik, Kore: On Sickness, the Sick and the Search for the Soul of medicine. I am reading Solzhenitsyn, The Cancer Ward.  My ongoing collaborative project Drawing Women’s Cancer (drawingcancer.wordpress.com) begins its second phase this year.

It is my consciousness of the fragility and tension of what lies ‘in-between’ that gives rise, I believe, to the restlessness that is always a part of me and I am now beginning to accept is a guiding force in more ways than the obvious. I have no need or desire any more to follow my feet, but rather I mean this year to follow my thoughts, my cares…change perhaps the way I see things from the inside, by standing still, rather than by moving on. I think this way I may travel further! So – I am writing, drawing, painting and reading , reading reading. I have two book chapters coming out in 2014, two exhibitions to work towards and a monologue to write. I am teaching. And I am constantly learning. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

%d bloggers like this: