Tissues and Organs …
March 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
I first met with the poets Matthew Clegg, Chris Jones and the photographer Karl Hurst to discuss this new creative collaboration – to be entitled Tissues and Organs – in Site Cafe, Sheffield in mid December 2011. Chris and I have collaborated previously on the Cells series and this new piece of work is intended to follow on from that; perhaps forming something of a conceptual and material bridge between the lowest level of organisation of organic life and the larger whale drawings that serve to represent the largest manifestations of biological organisation – or, at the very least, of animal organisation …
Matt and I have collaborated previously on a project entitled Chalk and on the Seven Wonders landscape project. My collaborative relationship with Karl is, as yet, new and untested but I am very excited about the prospect of working with him because I feel that we share many aesthetic interests and passions.
We have all agreed to follow a slightly different process to the ‘call and response’ format that has resulted in the outputs from previous projects. In previous collaborations it has been the case that either:
A) I have created a painting and the poet writes a response (as in Cells)
B) I have responded, in paint, to the words of the poet (as has occurred, in some instances, in the Seven Wonders and in another collaboration with Chris Jones entitled Death and The Gallant).
In this case we have each looked at the four classifications of biological tissues (connective tissue, muscle tissue, nervous tissue and epithelial tissue) and at four organs: heart, brain, liver and penis – focussing on each of latter as illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci.
This – first – posting in this category features the first of Chris Jones’ poetic responses and two images from Karl Hurst …
Currently I am working on a curatorial strategy for presenting these pieces in a meaningful, poetic ‘dialogue’ and creating paintings of my own that respond to these themes.
At thirteen my skinny body peeled apart. My throat closed up, cleft with ulcers; my mouth and tongue foamed and blistered. The tip of my penis bubbled then scabbed over.
This was the month of blossom pinking trees, of schoolmates necking by the fences; the month the ships pushed southwards.
My skin, layers of skin, had separated. And because my lungs were tacked with phlegm, since I hadn’t peed for days, the next recourse was hospital. I peered through the ambulance’s tinted doors; gazed from my isolated room at children hooked to limpid bags and tubes.
I watched a TV screen that moved and moved with grey-green sea.
I kept to a course of manageable things: lucent jars of Vaseline, spittoons (a physio came to beat my back like skins), and cups of medicine to light my throat.
One morning, medics crowded round the glass. Two clinicians pitched up to snap my eyes and mouth. The black Sister who wandered through my nights must have known, could have recalled some far away island pummeled by storms.
When the young doctor breezed in to check my notes and said ‘So many cards – lots of hugs and kisses?’ I thought of an untouchable girl: lip-gloss and freckles. Everyone it seemed was dreaming of a sweetheart they’d left behind.
The sickness was leaving me though one afternoon I started to yammer and wouldn’t shut up. Maybe it was horses thump-circling on the box. Maybe it was the infection riddling everybody’s blood, that springtime fever. Maybe it was because my scabs were crumbling, my rank mouth was firming back into a mouth.
Just as my dermis and epidermis were melding back together, just as my sores were healing over, I watched men on TV being flayed by fire.
On board the Coventry, Sheffield, men who met the blasts must have crackled black. What footage showed were boats carrying the badly burnt; padded bandages making up large and useless hands: so much singed and weeping flesh. Blokes looked wide of everyone, amazed at how flimsy they’d become.
My thirteen-year old self, scoured and picked as I was, could comprehend the body’s vicissitudes, could gauge the absolute waste of skin.