An extremely early start with a packed lunch, a sketchbook, colouring pencils and an eager mind, I set off to London to get myself to the Hunterian museum. I also wanted to drop by the Wellcome Collection as there is a permanent exhibition there called ‘Medicine Man’, but unfortunately I didn’t make it in time! I have been to the Hunterian 2 or 3 times before, so thankfully I knew where I was going and I didn’t have any added stress of flapping around London trying to understand how to use a tube.
Each time you go there, you see something new. I love walking into that building, your eyes instantly roll up and you’re all of a sudden surrounded by so many things in jars. I came here to get lots of drawing done, lots of photographing (even though you’re not allowed) and just generally find myself some deformities (if we’re being honest here). I found everything extremely interesting, some things were pretty hard on the eyes but still interesting all the same. There were lots of cut open animals, premature babies, and then we moved onto funny looking bones, there was even part of a babies faces who suffered from small pox. A monkeys head, a babies foot, a whales vagina. There was all sorts there. I found myself particularly drawn to the shapes of things- I know this is probably the wrong way to go about things as my work is all about context, but I suppose all of these things in jars were deformed in some way as they had been manipulated in order to have them inside a jar. Soon enough I found myself looking a tumours. Something that really caught my eye was a goose with a tumour the size of its head in its neck. Now I know this all sounds really odd, because who they hell would think a tumour is beautiful? This tumour was cut in half and you could see the inside of it, and how it was made up- the shapes, the patterns, the lines, the dots, the lumps. All of these things together make a really beautiful shape and pattern. Cancer and tumours are awful things, and that isn’t what I find beautiful.
– – – AMELIA – – –
I began trying to explain to Amelia all about my adventures to London and finding tumours pretty, she helped me a lot with this sticky subject.
When you take them out of context, remove them from the person, from the animal, the living thing, it becomes absolutely harmless. It is it’s own thing, alone, not trying to destroy someone’s life. Looking at a deformity when it is away from the living body, you aren’t going to guess what it is instantly, because they are so hidden within ourselves we cannot determine what these organisms look like. When they’re out of the body, they don’t scare us. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to look at, because they’re intimidating, they give a face to the name. With these illnesses and deformities comes emotions. We spoke about fear and vulnerability, and how these things can take over our lives, how we fear that we will be victim to them one day. But do we really understand what they are? Do we really understand them outside of the body? Do we know anything other than the fact that they have the potential to take our lives?
THIS IS MY WHY
(Part of it, slowly making my way towards it) I want to help people to understand these unknown creatures that grow inside us and shape our lives without our consent, help to understand why people’s spines may not grow straight, help to understand how a tumour is actually born, what it is made of and why it can hurt us so badly. I want to do all of this in the least intimating way possible, with lots of knitted goodness and beautiful colours to take away the fear we all seem to have. It is the fear of the unknown, the fear of the things inside us we can’t see, and giving these things a voice. Giving that tumour a voice, giving that fear a voice. It still all sounds pretty odd but if you can manage to pull yourself away from that initial (but, tumours?) feeling, you may be able to jump on this bang wagon with me. We spoke of the human being a host for diseases, diagnosis, and how we are not going to live forever, and that’s okay. I was in complete awe and beauty when in the museum and if I could create work that manage to capture the viewer as I was captured then, then I’d be happy. Amelia mentioned a film she watched called ‘The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson’ which is about a man who gets diagnosed with caner and is told he is going to die. I haven’t seen it but I plan to watch it. Here’s the trailer:
All in all, both tutorials went extremely well and it seems like both tutors are happy with where I am at, which is very reassuring. I think I just seriously need to start making now!