LIVING WITH SPINAL CORD INJURY
- I have launched my 1st solo art exhibition called "Living with Spinal Cord Injury" at The National Spinal Injuries Centre (Aylesbury, UK), with 18 new oil canvases. The exhibition opened 18 April. It will run for another month or so into the end of June (extended to July). To celebrate, I'm trying to raise money for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research (SMSR).
- The series was exhibited at the British Library in September at the panel event "Art/Science of the Polymath", in celebration of 500 years of Leonardo Da Vinci. I was also on the panel as a modern British polymath.
- In June the series was exhibited as digital projections on screens at the International Digital Art Festival.
WHO AM I?
- I'm a spinally injured person living in London. In 1983, aged 2 years old I was run over by a car - and sustained a C1/C2 incomplete spinal cord injury. The National Spinal Injuries Centre has been key in enabling myself and 1000s of others to live a normal life as possible.
MOTIVATION FOR THE OIL CANVAS SERIES
“The doctor studies the body to improve its fate; the artist to improve its spirit” – is quote I like from a book called " (Human anatomy – depicting the body from the renaissance to today” by B.A.Rifkin.)
Medicine and art have a long history together – going back hundreds of years. And I thought that it would be interesting to draw influence from this but infusing my own personal experience visually rather than just pure anatomy - over 6 months I painted 18 oil canvases in my free time – calling the series “Living with Spinal Cord Injury”
Just before all this, I was understanding more about Jean Michael-Basquiat’s art (artist from the 80s), and saw an interview of him, saying that one of the most important events from his life was getting run over by a car aged 7. Even though he was ok (but his spleen had to be removed), this seemed to have an impact on his future art, as you see lots of human anatomy scattered throughout his works – especially through his anatomical skeletal references of Da Vinci. Whilst he was in hospital recovering his mother bought him a copy Gray’s Anatomy – a book depicting the human body. This really spoke to me, and confirmed my subject matter to explore in my forthcoming exhibition. Even though travelling is really difficult for me, I made a massive effort to get to Paris last year and see the Jean Michael-Basquiat’s 120 piece exhibition at the LV Foundation to inspire me further.
I wanted to pull from my personal experience of my spinal injury – and convey a sense of it through visuals. And by reading the titles and the seeing the images, my aim is that one takes away the process of hope, strength and recovery, often needed by people who sustain spinal injuries. But I feel this message is not just limited to spinal injuries.
In total there are 18 oil canvases in the series. The series looks at inside the human body – and outside.
The first part of the series – is a set of 12 paintings which look the internals of the human body – focusing on the spinal column and other organs which are impacted due to the complications of the spinal injury. The inspiration came from the many x-rays I’ve seen whilst at the spinal unit growing up.
The second part of the series – takes 6 iconic paintings by well known artists – and juxtapositions disability – via them wearing orthoics like the neck collar, body braces, head supports, hand splints or tracheostomy I’ve had to wear over the years. I took really well known portraits paintings from Da Vinci, Basquiat, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Klimt and Picasso – it was my little way of trying to normalise disabilities visually. Eg. You’re familiar with the paintings but there’s something extra in them – the theme of disability. I wanted to use the series to show that it’s OK to be different. We should embrace our differences.