Ella Rudden-Power BA (Hons) Fine Art
I have watched my brother go from a healthy cheeky child to a teenager being kept alive by 20 tablets a day, I watched his body decline from happy and healthy to tired and in pain. Illness is something we all have a personal experience with, yet it is still something we all become uncomfortable with discussing in public. The publics ignorance and unwillingness to understand and teach others about the sheer impact illness can have on a person is damaging to our ability to empathise with each other and damaging on our ability to create reform to better help those with illnesses. It was with this in mind that I started creating paintings and artist books that promote learning, reflection and empathy in an audience. My work combines text which uses verbs and adjectives to hint at medical process and illness, intestinal shapes painted using a variety of techniques and materials, and anatomical illustrations reminding us of the human side of illness. I didn’t want my work to simply display the impacts illness has on a person I wanted to use a more metaphorical approach, this means that every person takes a slightly different message from the work depending in their understanding of art and illness. While Susan Sontag believes that metaphoric thinking damages our understanding of illness, I believe that in order to reach an audience unwilling to discuss taboo subjects metaphoric work allows us to send subliminal messages about illness to an audience. The verbs in the pieces could be inferred to mean different things by different people but when partnered with the intestinal shape it promotes an audience to think more about the words in context of the body especially when surrounded by anatomical images.