Chest 67; African spirit

23 May

Chest 67; African Spirit


This image is very different from the previous series and is like many of these images an experiment to see whether i can achieve things using different techniques, in this instance to physically draw into the base images.

I moved from Central Africa to England in 1975 and although I enjoyed the experience of the new country, only now I realise how much the loss of my beloved home in Zambia affected me then. This picture is nostalgic; it includes an African rondavel, scrubby trees, and dry grass. I try to express an impression of dusty heat and deep shadows under the Zambian sun. Tuberculosis was very common amongst the population, and since my own chest X-ray shows flecks of calcification I too may have contracted it at some stage, though I never had treatment. My first job in the UK was an old chest hospital – a memorial to King Edward VII – with many chronic TB patients.

The index X-ray in the picture was from such a patient who suffered (I use the word advisedly) treatment with plombage, before anti-TB drugs were introduced it was used for chronic cavitating pulmonary TB. Introduced in the late 1800s its use was based on the belief that collapsed lung would “rest” and heal more quickly. In order to force the underlying lung to collapse the chest was surgically opened and the space filled with inert material like wax, cellophane paper, or more commonly, Lucite balls or Ping-Pong balls. There are still a few people alive who had this procedure. It was discontinued in the mid-1940s when effective chemotherapy to kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis became available.

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