Monday, 24 October 2016


aortic stent graft
  One of the most beautiful things I have found whilst in theatre are the live angiograms that the surgeons use to insert stents.These are live x-rays of the procedure which involves inserting a very expensive expanding tube into a main blood vessel to prevent it becoming blocked.
  Rather like a Christmas decoration that once unfolded you can never get back in the box, this type of stent is a hand stitched metal mesh onto gortex which is expanded once inside the body.The procedure is done by watching the x-ray on screen .Not only can you see it expand but you see the shifting shadows of the bones and tissue around and behind it which is what I found beautiful.
  The sharpness of the metal and its gold marker points against the stormcloud softness started me thinking about how to do a lace version.I would have to bend some techniques to do this but it would be just like when I teach drawing.There would be no difference between learning how to use the flat of the pencil to shade and then the sharp point to pull out details. Lots of 6B and 2B I reckon, just in thread!

image found here

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


 One thing that does not happen in my studio is death. I may contemplate the immensities and I may suffer anxiety over showing my work but there is usually an atmosphere of things coming into being not the opposite.
   So, I watch a fascinating bit of surgery with a hybrid stent, some lovely angiogram images and some beautiful stitching.All is going well and then it's not. Despite all the good things, the miraculous things that were done it seemed  that this person would not wake up. I went home with a heavy heart and thought about the person on the table and their expectations of the day. Before you  consent to surgery do you consider all outcomes or do you put it out of your mind? Before you operate do you consider that possibility?How do you detach from death ?
  Much of my work in recent years has been about the moment of death and about returning to the earth.I have tried to express this transience through the meaning of the Japanese phrase 'mono no aware'. in a series of  pieces the most recent being 'Lachrimae Rerum'.
 but then another miracle, they woke up and I can stop fretting.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Into the blue

  At my second session of observing surgery I found myself thinking about two things. First was how colourful the body is inside and secondly how like textiles it is.
  The layers of colour as the surgeons went in were a bit like this...
yellow, white, golden yellow like oil, white , dark glaucous red, white, PINK, raspberry pinks, sausage pinks, peach, cut strawberry pink,blue stitches.
 As I focused out onto my surroundings it went...
strawberry pinks,(sausage and peach now hidden under swabs), raspberry, glaucous red, sunflower oil yellow, spring green, turquoise blue, sky blue.
 Then the textiles. I found that I could not see the inside workings of this live body as mechanical but as material. I saw a hand stitched quilt with cotton wadding. Inside the wadding was knitting to cut through and then macrame to avoid cutting. Layers of thick felt cut cleanly and then trapunto to be handled with great delicacy. Finally we get down to mending some stumpwork with needlelace.
A tiny rouleaux loop is fixed in place between two other larger rouleaux and we listen. The sound it makes must be right. Tiny, tiny stitches.
  On the way out layers of holding stitches through the knitting ,big thread and big needles. Skillful flicks of the thread to mend the felt and the wadding. Then finer stitches to seal up the quilt.
  The life support machines make a continuous noise like a distressed blackbird and I can smell roses. .

image taken from this work

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