This is a first blogpost in a series in which I want to share images and thoughts about my newest book “346. A Journey While Staying As Still As Possible”. It comes in an edition of 10, and along with the first copies of this book about my 7 week stay on a reclined bed, I made two models of the hospital room which vary slightly (images are of model and copy No. 1) but are essentially the same.
I tried to make a true model of the hospotal room I stayed in. My memory is aided by a few photographs, but I don’t have many. While I was lying on my bed, I didn’t really think of taking many pictures. My main entertainment there was watching the sky, and I have a range of photos of the window and the sky (the picture that I put on the window in the model is an actual photo I shot during the time through that window). But I don’t have taken any when I was able to get up and stand again; I was too focused on finally leaving my prison cell to want to capture and preserve it.
But for the model I was more interested in the atmosphere than an actual representation anyway. And so there are some deliberate changes to what might be considered a “true” representation of the room. For once, the bed is larger in scale than the rest: I wanted to make its presence overpowering. It was my world, after all, and it is more important than many other aspects. But things like the curtains, the wardrobe, the poster on the wall are all as close as I remember.
The items made for this room fall into a couple of different categories: there are architectural elements, like cable channels, the window, the shape of the room itself, lights and sockets. There is furniture: a sink, a screen, a wardrobe, a table, chairs, the bed of course. The radiator maybe falls somewhere between these two.
There are small items put in by hospital staff: a crucifix over the door (it was a Catholic hospital), a television and a telephone, kidney bowls, sheets, pictures and a clock, things like that.
And there were items brought in by myself: books, pictures, pens, sweets, a computer, my red cushion
When I started to make the room, I also started a list of items that were in this room, and the sheer amount of items on that list was amazing and intimidating. Every time I thought the list was complete, I remembered something else. Like the jug with which they would fill a baby bath to bring to my bed to wash. – Who would have thought that a principally barren room could hold so many different items? In the end it seemed impossible to really bring them all in. And so I made a couple of items that I found no place for. The room felt empty and plain to me. When I put in more items than I have now, it started to look more like a storage room to me.
So I decided against putting in a model of the television, for example – although it is mentioned in the text. But it is mentioned because I let it turned off – to the surprise of staff. And thus the television didn’t play a real role for my life there, and I left it out.
Then there are tons of small items that I had with me there, like piles and piles of books and magazines which well-meaning visitors brought and sent, which I never read, and which easily overpowered the room; so I decided to just put in two in the end.
There are some items that actually were rather important for me and still didn’t make it in. There are, most noteworthy, two chairs missing: the one my husband would sit on when he visited and a toileting chair. However, with the bed overpowering big, putting those two in would have made the room too full; instead of complementing the atmosphere they would have changed it too much. There are a lot of details in the room as it is, and I had to learn a couple new skills to make the models. I learned to work with polymer clay, for example, which I used for the apple and the chocolate. I worked with mouldable plastic from which I made the bed, and disinfectant bottles. I also worked with air-drying clay which I used on the radiators. I learned to make fake tiles for the wet area in my room.
One of my blog readers sent me a crochet heart for a key chain holder when she read that I was in hospital, and I used it on the key in my hospital room. And so I learned to crochet a miniature crochet heart that actually does sit on the key on the wardrobe.
For the kidney bowls I made moulds from polymer clay and then made them in a painstaking process from paper pulp made with thin Japanese paper.
I found a way to print blue lines onto white fabric and then sew bed sheets from this…
The biggest decision for me was whether or not to put a model of myself into the bed. And, as you can see, I didn’t. It looks like someone lay in the bed, stood up and walked away. It was my favourite daytime fantasy for more than 40 days, and I recreated this fantasy with this model.