I’m happy to say that ‘Island Collaborations’ is being exhibited in the real world for the first time next month – beginning with a week at Chelsea Old Town Hall (outside the library) 26 September – 2 October 2016. <event details here>
The excellent MK Palomar interviewed me before writing some text for the exhibition and she got me thinking again about the ‘island’ part of the project title and this map started to come together on the paper – the Foulis Ward archipelago made up of participants with the seas between named after some of the most infectious bacteria carried by some CF patients.
To get participants started I gave some suggestions of photos they might take of their surroundings. One of these was the view towards their feet/shoes. I made these four paintings (acrylic on paper) based on those photos. I found the images quite touching and they reminded me of how you inevitably focus on your own body while staying in the room and how the same repeated views can sometimes feel relentless. But there was humour too in Debbie (top left) sending a photo of her newly-painted blue toenails…
“we’ve two horses in the field, in the morning you hear them snorting and walking through the grass and you hear the river..it’s just all these lovely gentle noises kind of wake you up…it comes with the sunlight” – Marcella
Patient Marcella was recorded by Karen from rb&hArts, talking in response to some questions I sent her about the different sounds she hears in hospital and at home.
Marcella has a beautiful Irish accent and spoke with such insight about the two environments – sometimes she would come out with an unusual phrase, the first of which (“it comes with the sunlight”) I’ve picked out in wire – she describes the different way that sound wakes her at home and in hospital. I loved the way the wire feels like someone else’s handwriting and how when moved around it creates a fleeting shadow presence – like her memory of waking somewhere else, or her transitory stay on the ward.
In the project more generally I’ve had the chance to experiment with text as art- a suitably ‘long form’ medium for a project that touches on physical distance.
Watch the video here
Lately I’ve been focusing on making individual drawings from the photos sent to me by the participants – I’ve noticed the repeated contrast between the medical and non-medical. This picture ‘Monster munch & running’ has the personal magazines and snacks of patient Tom – but there are subtle markers that a fellow patient would recognise: the branded paper tea cups that get offered throughout the day, and the tiles that give away the fact that when the ward (in a building over a hundred years old) was split into single rooms, certain anomalies remained in the internal features.
It also struck me that a magazine about running was a sort of escapism. While patients are encouraged to use exercise equipment in their rooms, covering of physical distance is impossible while staying inside the room.