[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 others 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.