Chest 76; Aurelia

10 Jul

Chest 76; Aurelia

Miss Havisham is one of my favourite characters in Dickens, her first name does not appear in the book but the opera (Miss Havisham’s Fire – Dominick Argento 1979) names her as Aurelia. She is said to look like a cross between a waxwork and a skeleton with moving eyes; an image that enchanted me when I was about 13 when I read the book for the first time as a school text.

Here I am using an X-ray of a man with sarcoidosis The word comes from sarc– —  flesh and –osis — a diseased condition. He has heavy chalky calcification in the lymph nodes of his mediastinum and hila with fibrosis of the lungs which is typical of the condition. It is the kind of slowly suffocating disease Miss Havisham could, or perhaps should, have had.


This is another attempt to do a “black and white” picture, but again fails singularly because colours have crept in almost of their own accord. If anything, by contrast they impart a ghastly white character, like old whitewashed walls. The picture reflects the chalky calcification associated with caseating sarcoid granulomas. I juxtapose broderie anglaise and segments of the X-ray to produce an ambiguous fabric texture somewhere between a funeral shroud and a wedding dress, hopefully to leave a question in the viewer’s mind.

5 Responses to “Chest 76; Aurelia”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs July 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Long ago I visited a lady who had phoned me about illustrating her book. She was 90, and I suggested that I drive out and meet her/visit in person. I drove through the cotton fields of Louisiana, across an old cattle-guard crossing that was more in the earth than out.. then into the back yard of the old farm headquarters. A maid opened the kitchen door and greeted me and said, ‘She’s waiting for you, come on inside..”

    She led me through the kitchen, dining room and towards a room in the back. The house was dark and quieit. There she sat in a chair by her bed. I felt as if I were PIp having an encounter with Miss. Havisham.

    Legally blind, she was an amazing woman with a sharp mind and memory. We did three books together, and she became a great friend and mentor. She told me if she could live her life over again the one thing she would do is visit the elderly more often. That statement affected my life, and i still try to give the elderly my attention, no matter how busy I am.

    • Xraypics July 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      That’s a great story, thankyou for sharing it.It’s good to know your friend had someone to look after her. I frequently wondered who looked after Miss Havisham. Who lit the fires and who ensured she was fed? Not Estelle surely, she was being brought up to be a lady. Indications of the invisibilty of servants in victorian England perhaps? I couldn’t agree more about visiting the elderly. My father in law in England goes days and days without seeing anyone from the family, although we phone from Australia almost daily and visit yearly. The rest of the family have difficulty going down the street even once a week. Sad. Tony

      • Playamart - Zeebra Designs July 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

        Yes; this lady would ‘see’ me come into the room and would ‘feel’ for a letter beside the chair. She would hand it to me and say that it’s been there for days and would i please read it to her. That was in that old-fashioned time when people actually wrote letters by hand (sigh) and I would read such sweet correspondence from her friends. Her family lived in the same house and did not realize what a treasure she was.

        I understand how frustrated that must make you at times. Thank goodness for modern communications.

  2. elmediat July 19, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    These images you create are so fascinating. The different approach to found art and what I call Necro-media. 🙂

    • Xraypics July 19, 2013 at 7:23 am #

      Thanks for your kind comment. It’s true, I’ve often stood back and thought there is a necrophytic element in the pictures, even those where the underlying X-ray is quite hidden. It’s unexpected. Probably a result of my long exposure to the trials of life (and death). Tony

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