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Deborah Caulfield's blog - disability arts online
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Hot summers, sticky sweets, and not so golden days. / 25 March 2012

This picture is the latest in what I believe will be a long series, the working title of which is ‘Sundays’.

Whereas the first one was hand drawn and painted, Sweet Sunday was created digitally, with a camera and scanner to get the images into the computer. I used a combination of  Serif and Adobe software to edit the images and create the picture.

As previously described, Sunday visiting in the institution was special, extraordinary and transient.

Visitors invariably brought sweets. Not all would be eaten on the day. In later years, when I could walk about, I would save some, keeping them in my locker. This gave me a problem because I hated throwing away the wrappers. They were symbols of something rare and precious. Treasure.

The shape of the sweet wrappers reminded of people standing. So I lined them up, like a row of visitors at the bedside. My mother, who was pathologically self centred, occasionally brought aunts, uncles and cousins to see me. This was to show them how much she was suffering because of my illness.

We had proper hot summers in those days, hence the golden yellow background.

For several years I was completely static, strapped to a plaster bed. The wooden artist’s mannequin seemed a good image to convey this inertness, the limited amount of movement I had. The face is a scanned drawing done by my daughter age nine. I came across it recently during a rummage for old snaps (photographs, in post-war parlance).

The building on the left, part of the old school house at Chailey Heritage, substitutes for the dolls house my parents brought for me to play with during their visits.

The teddy bear came from Ikea a couple of years ago. He is naturally shy but enjoys being in my pictures. I didn’t have a bear as a child. I had a pink rabbit. It was thrown onto the roof of the ward by bad boy David Fox.

It’s a huge though somewhat time-consuming relief finally to give visual expression to these childhood events. I realise now that this is more than mere self-indulgence, but necessary coming-to-terms story-telling. It isn’t just my story.

It is an equally huge blessing that DAO has given me this blog space, to share and get feedback on my words and pictures, which is always pleasing.

 

Keywords: art,autobiography,blogging,chailey heritage,circus,digital art,disability history,history of disabled people,hospital,pictures