Back in 2006 'Bare Boards and Blue Stilettos' was an uncomfortable installation immersing the audience in faulty communication and uncertain access. I began working on it in 2005, it was my first major piece of Disability Art.
Fanny the (animated) wheelchair, never made it beyond BB&BS, but Jessie...
Jessie seeks to be 'People Like You' - she was my first soft sculpture, born out of despair (unlike Kouros and Koure), reaching down into the depths to make her connections. When '(it might be disability, but) it's Still Life' was exhibited at Holton Lee in 2011, Jessie was intended to join Kouros and Koure, lying in the ground beyond them, her searching roots just beginning to show.
I began working on the roots, but somehow it never came together. I had moved far from Jessie's dark despair and I kept wondering if it was all too personal. Would Jessie speak to anyone else? I tried to put her back in storage, but as soon as 'People Like You' began taking shape, Jessie put herself back on the agenda.
Jessie began in the conflict between my personal, private identity and the face I wore in public. Jessie, unable to stand, sought an identity through symbolic roots, roots burrowing into some other state of presence.
Stitching, I am drawn to link the roots I'm now creating with mobile phones (rooted androids, superusers) and social networking. Reaching into our own darkness, roots become symbolic of the search for connectedness and symbols of that never-in-the-present state most people seem to be practicing.
Between posting, pinning, texting and tweeting, my thought for the day is that social networking could be the Borg and we are all being assimilated, willingly. Eagerly assuming that we are each expressing our unique individuality, are we in fact creating one monstrous identity where each one of us is just one more line of code? Or is it something else?
Lying face in the grass
arms reaching out, fingers
rooting into dark earth,
I am aware of life past;
hearts that have rotted away
from disintegrating bones;
breath that still whispers love words,
lust that still moans desire;
reaching out, seeking me, pulling
me down, calling me in.
And I am aware of
the love lifting me back
home, the seismic shift
in my life, my destiny.
I once heard Anish Kapoor say something along the lines of "my art works because I have nothing to say" which struck me as very odd.
Triptychos Boxed is a glance at the aspirations of faith and mythology from a wheelborne perspective. A collection of previously loved small boxes containing references to aspects of faith, they also focus on the 'get up and go' that, chairborne, I both long for and reject as irrelevant.
This is my first conscious attempt to make work that 'has nothing to say'. It is merely a suggestion; an emotionally charged comment tossed under the wheels in passing, totally open to any interpretation you might visit upon it.
It may not stick to your wheels (apologies to those of you without - no inequality implied), but maybe you will 'stick' something to it?
Sci-fi might be my mythology;
superheroes are never normal.
Perilous poking around
pointlessly perfect bodies
of history, convince me
to look to the future
to aspire to.
I pin my hopes
on a chairborne aquanaut
to re-imagine life
as we know it,
Crow, dammit, Crow. Box 3 and the final part of Triptychos is heart-shaped and Schiaparelli pink, except for the outside of the lid. The box, 21 cms across and 4 cms deep, has a teal coloured lid decorated with colourful peacocks adorned with hearts instead of eyes.
When you open the box you will find, not a love letter, but a Christmas card. Mary and Joseph hold each other anxiously as the baby in the wheelchair peers up at them. The angel is of course, adoring; the sheep proprietorial and the goose indifferent or just looking for the way out.
Inside the lid you will find the words: crow, dammit, crow
Looking for role models
I wasn't keen to be a sheep
or a man. I wanted the one
who couldn't take up his bed
and walk, to be the hero.
And finding the
I just wanted to hear it crow.
Schrodinger's Cat. Box 2 of Triptychos, is black and 15 cms deep. It has six sides, each 7.5 cms. The outside has a texture like fine grosgrain which gives it a silk-like finish. The lid has a 3 cm lip and both box and lid are a smooth black inside.
When you remove the lid to peer into the darkness you will see the words read read read read read read read read & read in sky-blue printed around the edges of the floor of the box.
There is also a black square in the centre of the floor of the box. This square can be seen against a sky-blue background and it represents a black cube.
Inside the lid are the words: SCHRODINGER'S CAT.
I am the mystery;
Inside the box
I am a box only
faith sees inside.
But faith never sees
the inside of me
just closes the lid
and I am gone.
The Dawn Chorus seeps into my consciousness with liquid joy. Night brought sleep, so I open my eyes with a question.
These days play out on a yo-yo string, some are stretched out towards the promise of wholeness; some like this one are curled in on the pain. And waiting an unfocused kind of waiting, between moments that I try not to fritter away. Yesterday comes like that when I wedge myself against the garden wall and paint a long view. And later I watch the birthday flags waving from terracotta pots and take a rain check on chocolate layer-cake.
Days, moments, that leave no memories, just quiet folds in the chronological order of my life. Out on the pleated edges is where the sun shines and creation swirls; and where hope still has a cheeky smile.
I know of no way to acknowledge the value of hours devoted to breathing through pain; no way but waking and living. No way to honour love and life, but living; being; creating.
Sensuous lines swirl
white on white, kissed
by the glass walls
of my house; embraced
by the Nouveau frame.
Day by day, week by week,
pressed against the glass
while the sun rises
and a squillion snowflakes
dither and refrost.
Impatient for my
jewelled garden to emerge,
armfuls of silken narcissi,
fistfuls of fake muscari
into the waiting canvas.
Beardsley morphs into Mucha
waiting melts into spring.
I'm planning my next trip to Japan and I hope this time to be bringing back my very own skinny-wheeled chair. Will it actually make a difference to my life?
Being in Japan opened my eyes to the realisation that I have accepted too many restrictions without questions; shouldered the burden of inequality as if I deserved it and run out of energy to care.
When I acquired my first manual wheelchair, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The gift of mobility was magical and although it took months to get it set up so that I could use it for more than 15 minutes without pain, I was immensely grateful to have it.
I was never able to go far in the manual chair, my shoulder joints are not really up to the roll, so when I became the owner of a powerchair, I was suddenly faced with the wonderful and terrifying prospect of going out alone.
I've never managed to afford the kind of vehicle that could transport the powerchair, so even when I am out alone, I'm never that far from home.
When I began as the paid coordinator for linkuparts, I tried to get access to work assistance to remedy the situation, but was told that any help that enabled me to be more independent for work was open to abuse - in that I might also use it in my free time.
With the Japanese chair, things could change and I'm actually scared.
Scared that they will and scared that they won't...
The London underground map
and the symbolic wheeled chair,
iconic part-truths to make life
easier. But while the map
harms no-one, not so the chair.
shorthand for all and every
disability, the chair is
all embracing and, for the horde
who only ever see the chair,
I too become synonymous
with every disability
known, imagined and unknown;
regardless of me and all
Irrelevant to other
disabilities, this symbol
is a trap prejudicial to
my perceived identity.
I want out, I want free.