The Scarred FOR Life exhibition

This week I’ve been working on a collaborative piece for The Somerville Foundation and the UCS Science dept. The brief was: we (12 artists) were to add an ephemeral drawing to the wall of the Waterfront Gallery and to embellish a 3D printed heart (which was slightly oversized).




The science lecturer told us a little bit about the foundation and at home I checked out their website. We were told about the issues that can arise due to the patients parents being understandably over cautious, often resulting in the children’s childhood experiences being limited. The charity supports patients throughout their lives, as well as the obvious physical support, they also provide therapy and mental support.

So bearing this in mind I considered possibilities around the fragility of the heart, I thought that I could make the heart appear to be made out of fragile materials like porcelain, or glass. A ceramic heart could be decorated with blue transfers, this also made me think of tattoos and the hearts popularity as a feature of body art, both anatomically accurate and pictorial images. I considered adding a crackle glaze to heighten the delicate nature of the damaged heart. The red heart brought to mind a bloodied boxing glove, if I were to give it a stitched up wound from an operation I thought that the threads could be made to look like the laces of a glove.



I searched the web for contemporary artists who’d used a heart in their work.



To start to create my heart I sanded the surface to remove the ridges created in the printing process with a Dremel, I then primed it with grey spray paint and left it to dry by the stove. My wife soon noticed a smell of hot melting plastic, and I noticed that whilst drying it had started to become flexible (it was at a relatively low temperature) enabling me to manipulate it. So with the idea to create a scar on the heart I puckered up the surface and allowed it to cool. I then applied an undercoat of crimson acrylic paint.


The ridge (scar) on the side of the heart, with undercoat and definition
The ridge (scar) on the side of the heart, with undercoat and definition


I then applied a darker wash for definition, added a cream colour for the fat and red and blue for the veins and arteries.



I then added oil based ink, which is transparent providing a blood effect, this is sealed in with more wax as the ink takes a week to dry (as it was on a non-absorbant surface and I only had a day)  I stitched up the scar with electrical wire and book binding thread. To provide the wet look I sprayed the wax with a quick drying sealant which is semi gloss.



Using a Dremel to bore out the superior vena cava and the ascending aorta, I drilled the hole for the fishing line (the hanging thread) and used some filler to shape the openings. I fixed in some brass cogs (clock parts), to show the surgeon’s intervention and the potential for ongoing care. I masked up the heart and primed it. I later added gold leaf and red acrylic washes prior to varnishing.



I then finished my drawing in the gallery and hung my dry heart.



The Scarred FOR Life exhibition (2016), is on from the 11th of April to the 8th of May at the Waterfront Gallery, UCS, Ipswich




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