Saturday, August 31, 2013

Prosthetica fairings

I have produced a number of prosthetic leg covers for myself. I think the appearance of the prosthesis is integral to making the wearer as confident as possible.

It's not an easy position to be in as an amputee and not wanting sympathy, but also needing to come to terms with a new way of living. Having to adapt is a steep learning curve, for example, needing to change the clothes that one wears.

I first wore my leg with a foam covering, in the hope that it would make my leg appear as 'normal' as possible. The foam actually stopped the knee joint from functioning at it's best and was easily ruined by the numerous falls I take. The knee was ripped and unsightly so I took the foam off!

I decided to have a bare prosthesis and then set about making beautiful fairings to enhance them.

I need to develop them further so that they can fix to various prosthesis, as each person may have a different type. I will be working on this over the next few months.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


In the past few years my work has looked at political sociological concerns and has now turned to more personal issues.

The origins of the work I am concentrating on stem from some ideas I had last year. I had started to look at my own personal body politics after working on more universal concerns.

I had lots of ideas that I didn’t have time to explore, as my life took a dramatic turn. I was involved in a car accident, sustaining several injuries and ultimately resulting in having to have most of my right leg removed.

Second Nature 2012
It seemed natural to explore this experience through my artwork.

To express my emotions, convey how it feels embrace my new form as an amputee.

I wanted to make alternative prosthetic legs. I decided that I needed to accept and embrace this new form that I have. I now hope to create some celebratory prosthesis rather than the usual rather clumsy legs given by the N.H.S.

With this piece, Prosthetica 1, I wanted to convey a humourous, feminist statement. A comment on women’s domestic role, I made a cast of my stump to make the socket, which I chose to make from fibre glass without colour to echo the faded dishevelled state of the broom. Its size was important to me. I hoped to make it fantastical and larger than life. It would be impossible to wear such a thing comfortably and this was to emote the burden of ones position, which can be as an amputee or not!

Prosthetica 1, 2013.
Louise Bourgeois has been a strong influence to my artistic practice over recent years.

I admire her brave use of materials in this piece below,Femme Couteau, 2002. She used an inexpensive domestic material stitched together quite crudely, juxtaposed with a huge flick knife that is part of the figure and perhaps suggests at why this figure is missing a limb. My interpretation of this is that we can disable ourselves...however unintentionally with our thoughts and subconscious mind.

Bourgeois turned to using softer materials in later years echoing the tapestries she would have helped to work on as a child.

Her approach was bold, crudely produced stitching with purposeful strong figures created. Multi faceted pieces that exposed her inner psyche and expressions of her child hood memories.

I relate to and aspire to her exploration of psychoanalytic sculpture and installations with their cathartic purpose and visceral expressiveness.

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Couteau, 2002.

During my working process I found that I wanted to express both my psychological state and my physical feelings of having a phantom limb.
I was very inspired by a piece at the ‘Superhuman’ exposition at the Wellcome Collection last summer.
An excerpt of Matthew Barney’s ‘Cremaster 3’ with model, athlete and double amputee Aimee Mullins performing roles involving beautiful and metamorphic prostheses that grant surreally envisaged super powers.

Matthew Barney, Cremaster 3, 2012.

I felt very motivated to make work that involved the psychological side of the accident and hope to create the manifestation of that through my art.

To emote the profound change and new form I own. To move forward with it has meant that I needed to allow this real sufferance in order to be able to then celebrate it.

Prosthetica 2, 2013.
This piece is rather more convivial, it was great fun to wear!

I made a socket by making a copy from my first piece. I then covered this with the stump sock linings provided by my Prosthetist, who also supplied the longer stockings with which I made the pendulous tentacle like appendages.

My inspiration came from the ancient swirling dervishes who spin with full bodied white skirts. They dance in spinning motion to induce a trance like state.

My prosthesis aims to emulate that feeling, and is something I’d like to use in a film next year exploring my body politics.

With all my work around the prosthetics I have tried to use humour, to engage with my audience and to convey my character.


Prosthetica 3, 2013.

This drawing is one of the designs I have made for the covers I am hoping to make for my own leg. I have been developing ideas and playing with a variety of medium to research what will work best as a practical prosthesis as well as being a piece of art.

A chance for me to make beautiful art that in turn has the practical property of covering my leg.

I also want to continue exploring my psyche with the more fantastical prostheses. This year they will be displayed as a finished range of photographs, next year I hope to use them in short art films.

I am also planning to research the area of aesthetics in prostheses for my dissertation next year as I feel strongly that this area can be helpful for the successful rehabilitation of an amputee. Moreover, the process of addressing ones physical condition and customising ones limb can be a catalyst for great positivity.

Prosthetica sketch for leg cover, 2013.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Hi all, 

just to let you know I have been incapacitated for some time as I was involved in a car accident. I'll be back soon with more updates on my work.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Work Ethic

Back in January I was lucky enough to be chosen to take part in the Work Ethic exposition. It brought together a group of undergraduate Fine Art and Creative Art students from across disciplines who engage with ‘process’ as an integral part of their practice. Instead of an exhibition that presents a collection of finished works the intention was to present a space in which the artists’ journey was made visible.

With 'making' as a central theme the show explored the artists' relationship to work. For the duration of the two week exhibition the audience were presented with a space filled with the sights and sounds of production. They witnessed 'process' live and in a constant state of change.

Work in progress, Jan 2012

We used blackboards as a way of charting their daily activity. We clocked in and out by recording the hours our work and by keeping a log of our actions. I enjoyed exchanges with interested visitors about the working process, and the motivations behind my work. Also discussing some peoples relationship with their work; and fascinating anecdotes about doilies.

In my original proposal I had put forward that I wanted to work on a textile mixed media project. It was a work in progress and is a piece that explores the changes in the gender roles apparent in todays society and in the influences of iconic figures in the modern era.

Final Piece, Jan 2012

At the private view the piece was brought to life with performance, my son "slept" while the audience engaged with the work. This brought attention to the piece and provoked reactions and discussions regarding it's meaning. 

While working on the quilt, I felt that it was successful in some areas. I needed to pare down and choose one aspect to focus on. After the show I dropped the printed images and concentrated on just using the crocheted doilies as a means to highlight womens redefined position. The revised piece was put into a subsequent show, 'We're here, where are you' which I'll talk about next time.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Clothes are never a frivolity: they always mean something.-James Laver

We have a rich heritage of textile artists with icons of the field such as Sheila Hicks, Michael Brennand-Wood and Sonia Delaunay. I have always been a great admirer of Louise Bourgeois, who used a wide range of medium throughout her expansive career. She dealt with highly emotive, personal issues, a pioneer in confessional art that has become more popular in recent times with artists such as Tracey Emin. In this piece, a detail from her Cell series she used garments to represent the family unit, an aspect that was prominent in her work.

Louise Bourgeois, interior of Cell VII, 1998.

To quote writer and artist Quentin Bell  “Our clothes are too much a part of us for most of us ever to me entirely indifferent to their condition: it is as though the fabric where indeed a natural extension of the body, or even the soul.

This emphasises the potent quality that clothes can bring to art, heavily laden with metaphor they offer the artist an excellent medium with which to convey their ideas.

Looking again at the wonderful Guerra de la Paz, a collaborative I wrote about previously in 'The use of Fabric in Art'.

Guerra de la Paz, Pieta, 2005.

This piece, an appropriation of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece Pieta refers to the futility of war.
Their recurring themes reference classic imagery in a critical, contemporary light. They believe that their work has universal meaning. It speaks of life, its cyclical patterns and dichotomies.

Unidentified, 2011.
In 'Unidentified' the barbed wire topped fence is packed with found clothing that fittingly represents the oppressed masses. The garments are a resounding metaphor of people they represent – encaged within, as in a prison, or a death camp. Political awareness is resonant throughout their work, requiring little explanation.

It is important to the artists that the essence of the clothing used be as evident as the concept, whether it is incorporated as a whole or deconstructed. They stated that they started using clothing as a medium as there was an overwhelming abundance of it ….
‘the colour, texture, flexibility and archaeological quality defines a time-a place-the person who wore them-the society they come from……..
It brings the energy they embody which often directs us as how the garment is to be used.’

Manto (detail), 2011.

This picture is a detail from a recent piece, a large installation with an interactive performance. Its theme is matriarchal, using feminine lacy garments in whites and ivory tones. The visitor is welcomed in by an ambiguous figure to gently dance and then the figure falls onto the cushioned floor, to rise elegantly, ready to dance again. The cyclical, feminine theme attracted me as it parallels what I’m hoping to evoke in my current work.

In the recent exhibition ‘Material Actions’ I was introduced to the work of Lucy Brown. She makes sculptural textiles using deconstructed underwear and vintage costumes. Using the historic background of the garments to create works that explore and comment on femininity, identity, and body politics.

Lucy Brown, Limbo (detail), 2009.
With Limbo, using her signature undergarments, Brown highlights an aspect of the human condition. The piece is rather abstracted, with the clothing used as yarn to weave a piece that is evocative rather than representational.

She states ‘the work explores narratives around the absence and the presence of the body, clothing and unclothed, and issues surrounding female identity.
The garments history is an important factor to imbuing meaning into her work. This aspect  resonates with the choices I make in my own work.
My artistic practice has changed greatly since starting my degree course, previously I was happy painting in an abstract expressive manner BUT felt that I wanted to convey more socially aware, political messages in my work. I have discovered the most incredible artists over the last two years, especially those working with textiles and have found that this medium is particularly powerful in intimating meaning.

While we sleep, Clare Tigoglu, 2012.
In a recent piece of work 'While we sleep', an interdisciplinary installation, I used doilies en masse to comment on the changing gender roles apparent in society today.
I feel acutely aware of the need to recycle the fabrics that are available to us, for obvious ecological reasons and for my own means to utilise their anthropological sub-content to enhance concepts in my work.

I am starting a new film project using underwear to explore my own personal body politics.........just working out the logistics.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Doilies , crocheted in a spiral structure, growing out from a central point whilst firmly anchored by the integral structure to this core. Delicate and strong reflecting the females who made them, representing the cyclical time by which women are governed by. Evoking memories of expectations…..

Dyed black, subverting the concept deeply rooted in their origins of innocence to create a bold statement, celebrating their beauty, indicative of the death and reincarnation of women’s role in society.

While we sleep……