Diabetes: Year One is a graphic novel that charts my first year after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The project takes the form of graphic poems that deal with the patient perspective to explore the patient-practitioner interface, and is aimed at developing awareness and understanding of the patient experience for new diabetics, parents and family, and medical practitioners.
Ultimately I aim to illustrate the experience of diagnosis, living with diabetes and the notion of medical identity, the history of the disease, the biology of type 1 diabetes with regard to the body's relationship to glucose and glucagon and the autoimmune system, and the process, and benefits, of being part of a research trial.
[Images from an exhibition kindly supported by St Giles Medical Communications.]
"At the age of forty I wanted to change my life, then life changed for me.”
With two months to go before my MA I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. A bit of a shock. All I knew about the disease were fragments from the media, and soon more from what the doctors told me. Each time I felt I had it sorted – something new cropped up. From someone who didn’t do illness, I became very much part of the health system.
From thoughts of children’s books and cartoon illustrations my work took me elsewhere. To know more about my experience, I had to engage with what was happening – the medicine, the science, the emotions, the practicalities.
Starting with me, I’ve slowly begun to work outwards – recording my reactions and feelings about what being a patient means to me, but also to others. As my life changed – so have those of my family around me. Watching from the outside as my Father, Brother and Niece have faced their own struggles I have acknowledged my own strength, and confronted the growing weight of my powerlessness.
Through drawing I work out bits and pieces, I begin to make sense of my new life – and new body. Drawing to me is thinking, is the process of understanding what’s happening – sometimes naturalistic, sometimes metaphorical and surreal. The marks on the page record the process and the struggle, and using layering I can excavate meaning from a situation. Augmenting my work digitally further filters these thoughts – to reflect on what it all means – as if a residue of Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquility” still haunts the way I work.
Works developed as part of developing projects.
Images of the Angel of the North physically created and digitally manipulated through inversion, to explore the way public art imprints our social psyche.
A personal project, begun in the North-East, taking landscapes and re-imaging them through colour and line - making the everyday something special.
Personal sketches from Newcastle and Durham, exploring the imprint of the past on the cities.