The idea for the final design was really concreted by a trip to the Tate Britain where I saw Leon Underwood’s Totem to the Artist. The word Totem is derived from the Algonquian word Odoodem, meaning kinship group.
The idea behind this art installation is to celebrate the mutual support and sense of kinship that develops in the National Spinal Injury Centre, between the hospital staff, therapists, patients and their families through each person’s stay in the unit.
I also want to weave together themes that are integral to the work carried out here at the centre: perseverance and determination to overcome and adjust to changed lifestyle and self-identity.
In the main foyer/waiting area there’s this brickwork column, the central support, the ‘spine’ of the building, this is where the 16 portraits will hang. Each of the collaged portraits is of someone with an inspiring story of extraordinary accomplishment living with a spinal injury. The way the portraits are displayed is intended to echo the appearance of a totem pole, which in turn echoes the appearance of a spine, a central support. And a seamlessly circular metaphor. (I like that kind best).
The images are made from hand-cut layers of silk screen prints which in turn were over-painted with repeating abstract patterns to emulate the carved designs of a traditional totem pole, and also symbolise the patience and determination required for the repetition involved physio and occupational therapies.
more photos to follow…