Magnificent Multimorbidity - Digital Photo Collage
I made this digital collage just as the coronavirus hit China. It shows my multiple morbidities in two versions of myself. My nakedness illustrates how vulnerable I can be. My magnificence shows that I am much more than a set of diagnoses: I am a human being and a woman.
The government repeatedly ‘reassured’ us that deaths were ‘only’ in the old and those with pre-existing conditions. That’s me, I thought!! I’ve got pre-existing conditions …. so apparently my death isn't important. Then, through the daily coronavirus briefings, the government’s focus on the graphs on the front of my TV felt like they were ignoring the individual people whose deaths they weren’t quite reporting. So this photo shows some of the ignored dead bodies spewing out of the back of my TV: with their skulls and abnormal chest x-rays.
Sitting in my installation.
As part of diverting me from the infodemic, I made art: in the only place I was allowed to go - my front room - with the only material I had - recycled packaging. My installation is too large to show all of it in one photograph. But please take note of the coffin - after an old friend of mine died and his funeral was live-streamed, it was like his coffin was sitting alongside me, in my front room. My grief kept me ‘tripping over’ that coffin.
Looking out at the world.
It was very difficult not being allowed outside at all. So I constructed a paper lemon tree to show some of the natural world - even if it was far far away at the end of a perspective tunnel. I went hungry when I couldn’t get any food and in this photo you can also see the more-or-less socially distanced supermarket queue I could - ironically - see out of my windows. So near yet so far!
Safe as houses?
The two ‘women’ in my installation reflect different parts of myself. The naked woman shows how vulnerable I felt. It also includes some of the magnificence in my digital collage: Magnificent multi morbidity. The so-called shielding felt like an imprisonment. So you can see me in my orange prison suit dreaming of fresh food. Which I couldn’t get! Plus my version of the government pronouncements: I stayed home; the NHS wasn’t protected; and lives were lost.
I’m a multimedia artist, concentrating on digital art. I was very excited when my first video - Third Wave, 6 minutes linked to the installation you’re seeing images from - won prizes. I’m already learning more by making more.
I have a Masters (Distinction) in Islamic Art and Architecture. SOAS 2009. So I’m trained to know that there is more than one way to think and create artistically. I’ve also worked as an historian including working on the family papers of Joseph Sturge, an important Quaker abolitionist and activist. I definitely know that Black Lives Matter. I had a 25 year career in Public Health and Emergency Medicine, including working on the actively volcanic island of Montserrat, in the Tuberculosis prisons in Siberia, and (maybe the most challenging!) in central London A&Es. I’ve had to retire from that due to multimorbidity (lots of not-nice-at-all diagnoses) and disabilities.
More than any of that though, I’m a creative woman.
Now I’ve sorted out my emergency food insecurity, I’m refocusing artistically … on food insecurity.