At Your Service #5
The last couple of months seem to have flown by. In June I finished the final interview with Yerusalem from Italy and I'm now on my last few paintings, starting to plan the exhibition at Yorkshire Artspace that opens on 27th September.
I have had a few catch up meetings with Sheffield Hospitals Charity who are supporting the exhibition by providing extra funds to stage and event that highlights all the work the Arts in Health team are doing for patients. On 27th October we will be having musicians from Music in Hospitals, musicians from Lost Chord the dementia friendly music charity and an arts & crafts session with support from Grace Stead who runs her organisation 'enrichment for elderly' and who recently published a children's book 'my grandma is magic', helping children to understand the condition.
Also hoping to get the history group at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals into the exhibition as the background of the Northern General Hospital site is so interesting and reflects really well what 'care' was like before the NHS was established. We are going to celebrate 70 years of NHS on Thursday 5th July and there have been so many radio and tv programmes about the achievements and problems and future of the NHS that I worry no one will be interested in my exhibition. Same with the constant non-stories around Brexit. 2 years after the referendum Europeans have finally heard that those that have been in the UK for 5 years and more can all stay, nothing will change, although it might be that they will need to register themselves and pay for a 'permanent residency'. And the immigration ban for doctors from outside of Europe has also recently been lifted as the NHS can't do without a skilled workforce and can't fill the existing available posts with home-trained staff. Many of the Spanish nurses recruited in 2014 have returned or are returning to Spain, having gained their 'training points' to find well paid jobs back in their home country.
During the painting of the portraits I began to realise that portraits are just a fragment instead of representation of a person. Stories of individual journeys are unique, of course, people move to different countries for different reasons. But I also noticed similarities and found that the picture of one person's journey reflected that of another. What started as paintings of single portraits of individuals on paper, changed into painting of parts of the story of the individuals on oval and round shapes of oak veneer - returning to the work I made for the Ruskin exhibition two years ago. I also began to pull apart the original paintings I did on paper, deliberately fragmenting them.
I also started to imagine how to present these fragments within the exhibition space, wanting to move away from the traditional 'frame' and 'focus'. I have used so many different patterns throughout the work - patterns that reference European folk art that is almost boundary-less and juxtaposing these with patterns from national emblems and coats of arms. I created patterns from snippets of stories I remembered people telling me, things that keep tick-tocking around in my head long after the conversations have finished, things that may not even be that important for the person who told me.
The work has taken on a decorative element and I am now playing with how to frame this, instigated by an offer of being part of an all women's exhibition at Falcon Mill Gallery in Bolton.
Jane Forster is an artist with whom I worked at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals as part of a project called 'In and Out of Hospital'. She is curating the exhibition called 'XX'. I have made this wooden doll shape, the form taken from the icons on ladies' toilets - (a sacred space? a space that is owned by women and those who self identify as women? a refuge? a safe space? a confessional space?). She is wearing a pink patterned dress . From a distance it just looks like a patterned dress but close up you can see that the patterns are 125 small badges that can be lifted from the dress, badges of the 'feminism' icon but where the fist is slightly ambiguous - less 80s, more post millennial, reflecting the 4th wave of feminism, the outrage of the 'me too' and the inequality issues brought to the open through the 'gender pay-gap' findings'. I don't know how it will be received but that was the idea behind it.
It was during the making of this piece that I knew what the last pieces for the exhibition at YAS were going to look like.
I'm also working with John Rawlinson, my friend from the running club, on some text pieces that I will publish on-line and as part of the exhibition. The draft title will be 'the daily Europion' but that might change.