Chest 66; Shower of Roses
The index X-ray is from lady with breast cancer and metastatic deposits in the lungs, she suffered from a psychiatric complication of the cancer and steroid treatment.
As a junior doctor I was once abused for referring a patient by a psychiatrist who didn’t know that steroids can be a cause of psychiatric symptoms, particularly depression, dementia, and occasionally mania. The patient was accepted for treatment with great reluctance but it was amusing to see the case presented at psychiatric grand rounds the next week as though it was their amazing diagnosis.
The shape of the ring falling through a shower of bubbles was fashioned from the curve at the nape of the neck of the lady in the X-ray. The bubbles are light reflections from a glass bowl. The image lies on a background of flowers – and the title references St Therese, patron saint both of florists and people with diseases such as breast cancer.
I am often astounded by the fortitude and stoicism with which people accept their diagnosis of a fatal condition and sometimes wonder if my own response would carry the same depth of courage. I hope this image begins to illustrate those emotions.
Chest 65; Tunnel
In this image I tried to achieve an impression of depth; of a tunnel receding into the distance. The soft knitted background and the web of poles and high tension wires contrast with each other symbolising opposing aspects of life.
The third element was a chest X-ray from the teaching files showing a lady with recent breast enhancement, and placement of implanted prostheses. The picture reflects desirable, good aspects of cosmetic breast surgery, but also notes unfortunate, less desirable facets. The outcome of this surgery is usually highly successful.
By changing the shape of the body, self esteem, and personal confidence is greatly improved. This is symbolised in the bold confident colours. There is, however, a dark component in this image. Research shows a significantly increased suicide rate as well as increased alcohol and drug abuse amongst women who seek breast enhancement. The reasons for this are complex referring to the complex psychosocial maze in which the woman finds herself.
The image is about the spiritual connection of body and spirit.
In this image I tried to make a picture both simple (well, relatively so, most of my images are quite busy), and at the same time be powerful enough to carry a deeper meaning. The cross crept in almost by accident, I’d intended to exclude it, it was visible on the original picture; wooden tools from a commercial fishing boat leaning against a shack wall in the sun. In the final cut the cross seemed to carry a lot of weight, so not only was it left in, but became the main focus. Hope is a recurring feature of my images – spes phthisica a condition of euphoria described in patients dying of lung disease (mainly TB). I saw it in a close relative dying of cancer, in her last week happily purchasing embroideries and tapestries needing months to finish, and planning years into the future.
The chest X-ray was reduced to its minimal parts, it was from a lady with tubercular infection of the lungs and complications – fibrosis, and a pneumothorax. What is left on the picture just retains the diagnostic elements albeit minimalized – another variation from my usual style which is often to obscure the diagnosis amongst the design (though not always).
In this image it is hard to escape the cross, all its social and religious connotations as well as its association with the disease of tuberculosis. I realised the viewer has to deal with that by bringing their own associations to it.
By pure serendipity the image contains two Chinese characters 大 女 which mean ‘Big’and ‘Girl’respectively. See if you can pick them up.
Fortunately systemic fungal infection in humans is uncommon, when it occurs it’s usually in immune-compromised people and the consequence can be disastrous. My index X-ray was of a young man born with HIV from his mother, with rare pleural fungal empyema caused by aspergillus. The prognosis is almost universally poor, successful treatment usually combines surgery with antifungal therapy.
The picture comprises a busy pattern of contrasting layers built from images taken of flowers, reflections in a polished ceramic tile, and a stained concrete wall. I‘ve tried to emphasise the fungal aspect of the disease with fruiting bodies of the mushroom amanita phalloides. They were growing in garden mulch outside our hospital (there is probably enough toxin in that group to poison a small town). The X-ray was split into two layers, they influence the composition separately, remove either layer and the congruity of the image falls apart.
Amanita toxin halts RNA function, cells therefore die first in the liver leading to acute failure followed by kidney and subsequently whole body failure. I don’t know the outcome of this young man but purely on statistics the prospects were unlikely to be good.
Chest 63; What ails thee (Jock)?
Looking at other blogs that I follow, it seems to be de rigueur to put a photo of the artist’s palette onto the blog. So here is my palette. I hope you like it. Fortunately it is portable and here it is on the deck of our home. On the table is the wonky elephant light and a mosquito coil. The portfolio upon which I have been working is open beside the computer (Dell) and there’s a pile of memory sticks to carry copies and copies of copies of source photos. It also shows the remains of my breakfast and sundry objects left behind by the children. In the background you can see part of the mango orchard, and behind me the CD is playing. Way over in the distance a flock of sulphur crested cockatoos is flying across the eucalyptus forest. It is all quite touching but a good environment to get away from work and in which to think about the art.
Palette on the deck
Chest 62; Sensory deprivation
Have you ever experienced one of those moments of hyper acuity? Consciousness seems so sharp, the quality of the light, the smells, the sounds in the background, the gritty tactility of touch; all assume fresh and new meanings. It is this perception that I try to capture with this image.
The index X-ray comes from a premature infant in the neonatal intensive care unit. This infant was being ventilated when the endotracheal tube slipped down the right bronchus causing the left lung temporarily to collapse. This is a situation that requires rapid detection and immediate correction.
It has always seemed to me that the infant lying in those Intensive care cassettes suffers a degree of sensory deprivation as it is insulated from the sensations of life. At the moment of birth, the infant emerges from a dark, warm uterus, where even sound is subdued, into a world where suddenly it is subjected to light and noise, cold, tactile stimuli, and the overwhelming requirement to breathe. The contrast cannot be greater. The sensation must be dimly reflected in those acutely aware moments we rarely encounter in adult life.
Chest 62 variation 2;
Being me….. I couldn’t help fiddling around with this image, and so I created this. Personally I prefer the first, it means more to me, but the second has a greater general appeal. Once again I would appreciate comments from any readers.
This picture was built up using a photograph of a child’s eye, the index X-ray from a young boy with a 20 cent coin stuck in his throat, it can be seen at the top of the image as a moon-like circular structure.
The steely gaze of the golden eye scrutinises the viewer gazing directly, eye-to-eye as it were, over a lake surrounded by trees. It reminds one of the pictures whose eyes follow you around the room. It shows reflections both within the eye and in the lake surface beneath.
The title makes a nod towards the 1960’s film (Reflections in a golden eye) starring Marlon Brando and Elisabeth Taylor. It has elements of those glossy over busy images popular in the mid 1970’s and early ‘80’s associated with various Eastern religious sects.
Most of my pictures produce movement towards the right lower corner, but in this image I have tried to reverse the direction of the eye’s movement with sweeping lines directed up and toward the left, coming to rest on the circular body over all – the swallowed coin of the child. I am not sure how successful that is.