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My practice is concerned with the fabric of life, the DNA of our personal and cultural experiences. I am a processed based artist who uses a range of media to explore issues relating to genetic screening and future representations of self. 'Distinctive Not Alien' is a research and development project funded by Arts Council intending to explore how socially engaged arts practice can create opportunities for public debate about genetic screening.
16 February 2016
It is timely that as my R&D period draws to a close, the findings of Dr Felicity Boardman’s research looking at support for screening of SMA (my condition) are also published. http://www.smasupportuk.org.uk/sma-and-screening-the-views-of-families-the-imagining-futures-research Through my discussions with artists, researchers and museum staff, some key themes have emerged. There are inherent challenges associated with choice when we are asked to make value judgments on human life from...
Interest in DNA - is it a gender thing?
24 January 2016
As I draw to the end of my research and development project I've been exploring in more detail the demographic of the audience at the Science Museum to help inform an audience engagement strategy. Two things struck me in particular. Firstly from an evaluation study, one of the reasons the temporary exhibition case that focussed on issues about HIV was popular, was because it told the human story and there was a narrative that came from real life experiences. It put humanity into the...
The Game of Life
30 December 2015
Christmas, amongst other things, is the season of games. Reminiscing about a childhood favourite I started to contemplate The Game of Life. This board game simulates a person's travels through his or her life, from college to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and possible children along the way. I loved the plastic landscape with bridges, churches, country houses and the possibility of retiring to the millionaire’s mansion. I also particularly enjoyed setting off as a...
15 November 2015
Since my last blog, I have been thinking about the importance of depicting multiple viewpoints relating to genetic screening in the final piece of work. In particular, the choice of materials will be integral to the way the concept is explored. I have been considering a range of options but I am most drawn to the idea of printing on glass, to create multiple layers where sometimes text is visible and sometimes the negative spaces become equally important. The text will...
Gains and Losses
22 September 2015
Loss. Loss of function, loss of independence, loss of control and perhaps loss of life is often associated with disability. Over the last week or so this was brought sharply into focus in relation to the proposed Assisted Dying Bill. I have the genetic muscle wasting condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy that would put me into the bracket of perhaps not having more than six months to live. Indeed my parents were told that, at age two, my life expectancy was limited. I have always been...
Who Am I?
6 July 2015
As I enter the Who Am I? gallery in the Science Museum I am struck by the scale and futuristic quality of the space. Space age style pods investigate human character traits and row upon row of large glass cases filled with a multiplicity of objects all explore our understanding of identity. The curator Suzy Antoniw explains to me that this gallery is one of the most popular areas of the Museum and is particularly popular with teenagers. Perhaps this is because this gallery is very interactive;...
Science and Art; Building a Dialogue of Trust
31 May 2015
So at this juncture, when I am re-establishing my practice, I thought it pertinent to take a moment to reflect on my interest in genetics and some of the projects that have occurred over the last few years. One thing in particular I wanted to re-visit was a proposed project called Resonant Frequency, in which DAO was a key partner. This was a project which was developed during 2008 in partnership with ITHACA and Science Oxford and although was unsuccessful in achieving funding, it...
Exploring the fabric of life
11 April 2015
At a time when the ethics of genetic screening is at the forefront of public consciousness I feel compelled to explore the role in which I, as a disabled artist, could engage with and inform this discussion from an alternative perspective. I believe the arts are fundamental in elucidating our understanding of identity, health and potential treatments. My practice explores how the tiny intricacies of biological life have vast social implications relating to medical ethics. I have just received a...