The work in this section follows the artists’ relationships with their bodies; the way they function, and how we care, or sometimes abuse them. The artists worked in association with the Wellcome Collection, exploring their own perception of the body, with an awareness of medical findings. This collective examination delves into the ownership of a body, with the dichotomy of care and misuse being a prominent theme, making each addition a deeply personal and touching one. The artworks within are charged with a powerful curiosity of the self and the inner functions of the body, each providing an insightful interpretation in tune with the individualistic nature of the body.
INSIDES (2020) – Mixed Media (Fabric Sculpture with Acrylic Paint, Embroidery, Beading, Machine Stitching.)
Erins work ‘INSIDES’ will explore a colourful, mixed media representation of how we may visually represent our health when we’re ill. The painted, fabric, sculptures are a response to a series of images from the Wellcome Collection of microscopic cells, bacteria and diseased flesh. The fabric is painted as one large piece, using fleshy and neutral tones to represent the otherwise healthy organs. References used for this section include photos of bruises, burns, scars, skin ailments, organs, and flesh – all sourced from the Wellcome Collection. Bright, bold beading and embroidery is used to represent the spreading of bacteria and disease across otherwise healthy body parts. Distorted in shape, size and colour, the work is a playful look at the idea of disease.
Hold me; Hold you – polymer clay, acrylic paint, wire, aluminium
‘Hold me, Hold you’ is an installation, inviting the audience to interact with the sculpture, to step inside an embrace that incites the acknowledgement of one’s belly. The artist previously worked with the fat body, focussing on celebration and unabashed joy within fatness. Instead of working with the imagery of the belly, she has shifted to her hands, “hands that have pushed and squeezed at my own belly in hatred and now have held and cared for it in rejoice”. Williams was inspired by photography in the Wellcome collection that displays fat people in freak shows, and as a response to ‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’, by John Isaacs, which resides in the permanent collection. She provides an opportunity for the viewer to take time with their belly, but also to commemorate historical fat people, holding their memory in a compassionate embrace.
Sexual Anatomy – Photography
Pilis works through photography, with an interest in themes of the human body, the mind and the soul. ‘Sexual Anatomy’ focuses on anatomical beauty; questioning what the values of the human body and its possibilities are. Our bodies may have imperfections, inside and out, but these artworks express an appreciation of anatomical beauty through an understanding of the structure of the human body.
Through exposed nudity, Daria Pilis stands against the belief that women should hide their sexuality and physical needs. A religious regime of chastity imposed by the church quite often puts pressure on females and makes them believe that nudity is a sin. This action damages the balance between body and soul.
Referring to the Female Gaze, the artist compares desire of nudity to anatomical beauty, and explores how she can describe internal body parts as sexual objects
Reconnect – Resin, wax crayon and ink
Reconnect explores body and mind connection, whilst highlighting the importance of grounding the self to tackle feelings of disconnection and alienation towards the body and tangible surroundings. The artist translates their personal struggles with dissociation and the uneasiness of connecting to the physical world and body through resin sculptures of bodily senses and a handwritten leaflet which has been enclosed in a box. It is not uncommon that many endure feelings alike – sometimes unknowingly too, and so this piece addresses the value and urgency of sensual grounding and similar practices as a way of reconnecting and checking in with yourself regularly.
STOP – Photography and Collage
Magda’s work is centred around the issue of eating disorders and its underrepresentation in our world. They are trying to shine a much-needed light to the fact that health cannot be discerned by the visible appearance of one’s body. While struggling with an eating disorder themselves, they gathered their experiences to incorporated into their practice, with frustration. Using their body as the main medium they collected pictured from their own fight with eating disorder to communicate that as many as 1,25 million people in the UK suffer from a similar experience. These experiences are usually misinterpreted and dismissed by the society and media. Their piece uses the body as a weapon against the misconception of the word health, trying to show just how rough and upsetting the journey of eating disorder is, especially in the deep world on the social media.
Uplifting – Plaster and Alginate
Allen began looking at the human body and in particular the way in which dieting and physical activity can affect our bodies, wellbeing, and health. Aiming to use sculpture as a form of communication, she drew inspiration from Janine Antoni’s sculptures of the self, from ‘Lick and Lather.’ After exploring the idea of dieting, the focus shifted to physical exercise and how it affects humans. The work incorporates the ideas of physical exercise and movement through the medium of sculpture. The intimate plaster and alginate cast of the artists hands grasp a metal pole, giving the impression of both strength and strain.
Extracellular – Crochet textile, installed and photographed in domestic spaces.
‘Extracellular’ is a textile work in a series of artworks inspired by internal images of human organs and cells. This piece is created to look like a network of veins with cell-like structures attached over the top. Exploring the body in relation to domestic spaces, this work is a celebration of the natural body stemming from personal anxieties about body image, health and wellbeing. Installed and photographed in the home, ‘Extracellular’ is a representation of the body occupying domestic spaces. Showing a bodily entity traveling around our domestic space, it references detachment of body and mind and fragmented sense of self, inviting viewers to look from the outside in. Deliberately using stitch methods like crochet, embroidery, and other textiles media, used to be thought of as ‘women’s work’, it transforms subject matter, often depicted as scientific/clinical or grotesque, into something cosy- carrying feelings of the everyday, home and the domestic.
Screen Hypnosis, Diagnosis: Insomnia
Wyons’ work draws on the themes of communication and social behaviour. ‘Screen Hypnosis, Diagnosis: Insomnia’ is a series representing screen usage effects on health. These pieces are a response to topics discussed in the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Taking sides: clashing views in science, technology and society’ by Thomas A. Easton, emphasising the detrimental effects of increased technology usage to communicate and socialise because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The discussion of technological advancement and its effects on health inspired Wyon to represent insomnia in such a stylised manner which refers to the distortion of reality when communicating through a screen. The fact that communication through technology has become increasingly vital during the pandemic due to proximity restrictions has resulted in the disruption of normal social behaviour and daily routines. Wyons’ work emphasises the difficulty of behavioural adaption and increased screen usage.
If You Only Knew – Polymer clay, acrylic paint, wire
A hand sculpted skeletal marionette doll to be used to demonstrate the pain of the puppeteer, painted red and white, wearing a red hood.
Pain is an invisible blight upon us all, but some more than others, They chose to explore the way pain alters how they interact with their environment, which developed into the concept of this marionette doll. Vee chose to create a doll after being inspired by the Chinese ivory medicine dolls in the Wellcome Collection archive, they also suffer with limited mobility in their hands, so the operation of a marionette doll specifically is a physical extension of the pain and difficulty they regularly have operating in the world.