odoodem_pd2A project I began working on as college brief in September 2013 finally came to fruition recently. The task was to design a site specific artwork for the National Spinal Injury Centre.

I described earlier my design of a ‘Totem’ honouring and celebrating the spirit of the Spinal unit, the great work that is done there and the kinship that develops between patients, the therapists and staff, the patients’ friends and families – the community.

The perfect location turned out to be an eight-sided brick pillar in the centre of reception: the spine of the unit, and conveniently totem-esque in shape; so defining the design, and informing the scale.

odoodem_bw1 odoodem_pd1 odoodem_dg1 odoodem_sc1

I decided early on that the artwork would consist of a series of portraits of people who have shown a level of determination and spirit that can inspire others. The stories I read in the course of researching who to include were often beyond awe-inspiring. Testament to the strength of character that comes to the fore in times of crisis, and a need to share that sense of possibility with others.

A really strong sense of people are amazing. I’ve also had some really wonderful feedback from the folks whose portraits I used. Absolutely heartwarming, I’ve so loved this project.

I’d like to thank everyone involved in the project:

aaron davidWeir MikeNemesvary jaredDuntan markPollock melanieReed catrionaWilliams peteDonnely ericaDavis  bonnie tricia darius andyWalker suzanneCowan barryWest frankGardner

Aaron Baker, David Weir, Mike Nemesvary, Jared Duntan,
Mark Pollock, Melanie Reid, Catriona Williams, Pete Donnelly,
Erica Davis, Bonnie Lewkowicz, Trish Downing, Darius Glover,
Andy Walker, Suzanne Cowan, Barry West & Frank Gardner.

The Sum of Its Metaphors

Following on from the More Than The Sum posts. Y’know what? this week I finally completed the project! 18 months since the initial brief, the planning, the researching, the thinking and playing began. 16 collaged portraits which will be hanging in their final home tomorrow.

Almost all art has at least one metaphor. Sometimes it’s a visual message, daft or clever, subtle or blatant. And often times it’s something that shows itself in the creative process.

This piece was always going to be heavy on the metaphor. It’s to be displayed in the reception area of the National Spinal Injury Centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital, so it will be seen by hospital staff, the patients, their families, friends and dear ones. It’ll become part of the back drop to a range of emotion – shock, fear, interminable waiting, hope, intensity, perseverance, dedication, and so much more. Purpose-wise, top level: it’s bright, colourful, and a visual distraction. Close up their road-map qualities show up and the faces almost disappear. They might be a place to get lost in for a while.

But the meaning goes deeper than that.

As you know, the collages are made from intricate screen print/drawings which was the first of the metaphors – the repeating patterns, the tiny detail – the repeated exercises of physio and occupation therapies, the gradual steps toward more independence. The incredible patience and strength of character this demands from all involved. Layer on layer of print and drawing – day after week after month of incremental progress in recovery.

The metaphor that shows up in the process: How life is so contradictory sometimes.

Wouldn’t you think you’d see something better close up. You would, though, wouldn’t you?

….apart from when looking too closely at something makes it vanish. From a distance: there it is. No doubt. Get closer and it fades out of sight. WTF? Really? Yes. Something like not being able to see the wood for the trees… perhaps.

These are some of the metaphors. Tomorrow I’ll show you the completed work, and describe the rest of the message.

%d bloggers like this: