All work © 1997-2015
Living / Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art: Exhibition
One of my pieces was exhibited in a group show at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, Ireland. 'Rosary' takes the form of a string of prayer beads made from painkillers, vitamin supplements, silver and resin. It is part of the British Council Collection.
The rosary was one of the first objects I made after graduating (RCA 1997). It was exhibited in my first major show, which was NO PICNIC at the Crafts Council Gallery, Islington in 1998. Rosary, together with another piece named Pricey, was purchased by The British Council for its permanent collection, and was loaned to the Lewis Glucksman Gallery for the exhibition Living / Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art.
Rosary was a continuation of ideas begun whilst still a student – I made a number of works around the subject of health and wellbeing – and to some degree this rosary encapsulated much of what I had previously been trying to say. I am not religious in any way. I am not even agnostic; I am (and always have been) a devout atheist. Yet at the age of 25 I was rapidly beginning to acknowledge a degree of ‘blind faith’ in medicine. I was coming to terms with the idea that my hopes of physical and mental salvation lay in regular trips to the GP, and that this was not unlike the affirmations sought by weekly Church-goers. That my doctor’s consulting room was my confessional; especially when there was something embarrassing to divulge or I hadn’t followed the advice from the last appointment. Telling my GP that, no, I haven’t given up smoking yet, essentially felt like asking for his forgiveness so that he would continue to treat me with compassion. Around this time I also read Limits to Medicine (1975) by Ivan Ilich, in which he attacks contemporary Western medicine and espouses the theory of ‘iatrogenesis’: disease which is actually caused by medical treatment or advice. From these, and many other obvious parallels, came the rosary using painkillers. I borrowed an artefact from a specific religious context and exchanged its spiritual symbols for medical ones, producing an object that opened up a series of questions about the parallels between spiritual and scientific belief.
Living / Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art
in association with the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC
23 November 2012 - 10 March 2013
Lewis Glucksman Gallery
University College Cork