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.