- Eastbourne District General Hospital
I am writing this, as my artist's right to reply, in response to Colette Meacher's supposed review of my work in the April issue of AN. This review is wholly misconcieved.
Meacher did not attend the performance event and therefore did not actually see my work, and if she had read the statement on show with the work she would realise that she has actually reviewed the work made by the cleaning staff and microbiologists at the hospital during my project. She obviously missed the permanent work I have given to the hospital based on 40 microscope slides, drawings and digital images as she doesn't mention it at all. This work has proved exceptionally popular, both in terms of its aesthetic impact and conceptual foundation. My etchings which are "tucked away" in a waiting area as she says, are serving their purpose as a means of taking serious artworks into public spaces where they would not normally be seen, "the disused" corridor she mentions is the busiest place in the hospital.
The Normal Flora project was a year long project made in collaboration with the housekeeping staff and microbiology staff at Eastbourne Hospital, the project created a dialogue between two areas of the hospital staff whose paths would never normally cross, and enabled each to understand the worlds of the other, it also went beyond that and engaged many other staff and visitors to the hospital (including many who came specifically to see the work) during a one day performance event where my work was installed. Those works included the carved, needlepointed chair pictured in AN, which is equally a sculptural object and a prop for performance, the images embedded in the chair are based on the Normal Flora microbiology taken from the object, which I cultured and processed myself in the laboratory. The lab coat also shown in AN was similarly produced and is covered with hand stitched whitework embroidery, this juxtaposes the lab coat as a traditional symbol of science with the technique of whitework embroidery, which was considered to be the highest achievement of women around the time of the enlightenment, when rational scientific knowledge was first claimed and the various disciplines were divided up, something women had little say in. The performance included my engagement with hospital visitors through the medium of crochet, they observed the bed sheet I made (based on electron microscopy of my own bed flora) and were invited to help me create a bed cover based on the light microscopy of the bed flora, whilst we chatted gently about the nature of microbiology, misunderstandings and the misrepresentation of it by the media.Less than 1 percent of bacteria are harmful, the rest form part of a complex and sublime eco-system which we generally co-exist with.
More details of the project can be found at www.normalflora.co.uk and a serious review will be included in a major interview in the next edition of the academic feminist art journal n.paradoxa.
An artist, working with dialogical performance, installation and digital technology involving socially engaged projects