Imagine, happy as can be, driving at 60mph down a road with cars coming towards you at the same speed. One mistake, one moment of bad luck and all would be over. This juxtaposition of happiness and sadness, light and dark, good and bad, life and death has always fascinated me. I do not consciously seek this in my work but I believe it has always been there.

I have seen too closely the undignified, terrible crumbling degeneration and death of my father with dementia. The commode and the Kylie® bed pad (an absorbent blue or pink mattress protector) have become symbols of this degeneration in my work. I try and make the work ambiguous not for its own sake but to reinforce the juxtaposition of good health and illness. It is impossible in the minds of most of the young to believe that they might become mentally ill or incontinent yet it is a reality for some of all ages and particularly for the elderly.

A ‘single room with en-suite’ could be a hotel room planned for a holiday or a room in a care home.

The different coloured chair pads in 'Lounge' reflect the ratio of women to men in care homes.

How to remember to take your medication?

Recently we exchanged homes for six months with a writer from Santa Monica. Santa Monica, a wealthy city on the Pacific Coast and part of greater Los Angeles, is 'home' to a large homeless population, attracted in part by the year round warm climate. Reed Park is an area in the city where many homeless people spend time and are often provided with food by volunteers. 

On a trip to LAX (Los Angeles airport) at the bus station I passed someone covered in a white sheet. There are often homeless people sleeping there but the pristine white sheet clearly covering a body told another story. There were no police or paramedics around, just the body under the sheet. People were passing by, seemingly taking no notice. Presumably, paramedics had attended and left; all that remained was to collect the body. An hour later the body had gone.

The Backstage Santa Monica video contrasts the beauty and wealth of Santa Monica, represented by the bird of paradise flower seen everywhere in the manicured gardens, with the poverty of many including the homeless who day and night search through the bins for bottles and cans to be converted to cash at the recycling centre.

Click The Big Draw to read the interview with me.

 

 

 

* Kylie® is a registered trademark of Capatex Ltd