Friday, October 8, 2010

My diabetes artwork - installation complete! Hooray!

Five posters, two ladders, and four lows later, I'm done! Yay! What a day! :D

Here are the posters, see which words you recognise:

DOC: the diabetes online community, a wonderful bunch of bloggers who encourage and support each other :)
SUM: six until me, the first diabetes blog I read, and the one that inspired me to create my own blog.
BASAL: refers to insulin basal rates, a word that diabetes folk will understand, but other people might not necessarily.
SWAG: stupid wild-arsed guess, for when a diabetic takes an unscientific amount of insulin, rather than working it out.
BOLUS: the insulin a diabetic takes with each meal, or to correct a high blood sugar. Another word that non-diabetics may be puzzled by.

By now you are probably scratching your head, wondering why on earth I've made these posters. Well dear friends, I will tell you :) I'm a tertiary tutor at the local college, and I work in the art department teaching typography, design, web, and digital media. It's good fun. Once a year the art tutors get together and put on a little exhibition to show the students and the local community what we've been up to.

At first I didn't know what to make my artwork about, but then I thought what better subject than diabetes? But how to portray it in a way which is both useful to diabetics (ie, improves knowlege and understanding of T1 diabetes) and sympathetic to diabetics (ie, not crass or gross, using obvious imagery like needles, blood, or the horrors that get repeated in the media about diabetes).

This artwork, although not large, is my first foray into making diabetes related art. And so far it's getting a good reception by those who've seen it. The exhibition opens on Tuesday and I can't wait!

It's made of ink on watercolour paper, on cotton printed fabric. Each piece is hung separately from a bamboo pole, perpendicular to the wall:

The first thing the viewer will see when they step into the gallery.

The five posters are hung perpendicular to the wall, to obscure the straight view onto the images.

I love the shadows created by the pieces, and how they become a floating sculpture, rather than just flat pictures on a wall.

Kitch floral prints were chosen for the backing, to tie the pieces into my home.

The viewer will have to come up really close and stick their head in the 40cm gap between each poster to view them properly.  I like that!

The posters depict words created by, specific to, or repurposed by the diabetes community. The underlying themes in this work include diabetes, community, language, and the interplay between secret and public. I chose this visual style to work as a visual pun on the idea of embroidery samplers, sometimes called needlepoint samplers. I've turned my posters into graphic samplers dealing with words related to diabetes, which is synonymous with needles. :)

Here's a short timelapse video of the making-of one of the posters:

And here's some shots from the installation of the work:

Tying tiny knots in fishing nylon line, to hang each poster.

The day was like a aerobic step-class from hell. I went up and down the ladder soooo many times! Ah, we must suffer for out art! :P

Final touches, straightening and checking the pieces before tidying up the room and setting the lighting.
It's been a mad day, with a crazy rush to get everything done and put together. A couple of lows interrupted my day, and I couldn't get above 5.2mmol/L until about 6pm. Oh, they've all caught up with me now though, I'm 17.2! Bah! :P

Roll on Saturday! :D


  1. It's so cool! What a great idea. I received a minor in Fine Art in college so, wow, I can appreciate the time you spent oh this. I am certain there's a market out there for you. You should contact your local Diabetes fundraisers and they could probably auction them off to raise $. They might even be cool hanging in their offices. You are really talented. Thanks for sharing!

  2. WOW these are fantastic! I love typography and even more so that these are hand done. The "basal" one is my absolute favourite. This is gorgeous!

  3. Hi! I floated over to your blog via Kerri, and I just want to say that your art is GORGEOUS! I love the lines-- so visually interesting!

    --Caroline/@carobanano on Twitter/a fellow T1!

  4. How am I only seeing this blog post now? Your artwork is INCREDIBLE, and I am beyond honored to be included in the lineup! Thank you, and do you have a high-res image of the SUM one that you might be able to email to me? I'd love to include it on my site - it's seriously awesome!!!