In 2012 I worked on a sculpture project for an experimental art subject, titled “emotional journey”. The brief was to develop, in any media other than print, a design which conveys an emotional journey. As a result of this brief I decided to confront my personal medical journey which ended in my having a hysterectomy at age 22 (2005).In order to progress with my life and study I had boxed these emotions up and until this point I had not delved too deeply into this post-surgery reality, as I found it truly difficult and taxing on my emotional state. However I felt it was time and believed I could address the experience through my art; so I chose to create a sculpture where the intention was to convey my journey as well as my resulting emotional state due to my new found infertility. It will convey the conflicting emotions arising from a personal journey such as this.
Process: I began by using a mannequin torso, over which I laid a frame of wire mesh in order to create a more voluptuous figure; I also used this mesh to create a window on the stomach of the mannequin. Over this I layered a paper-mache, focusing on developing the feminine features of breasts, backside and hips, as well as creating a smooth surface over the built up window; until I had the shapes I was after. I did not however cover the chest completely, instead I chose to leave a jagged, tear-like gap down the centre of the chest.I also used paper-mache to create the following pieces: a hand and arm which extends from the window in the stomach (using a glove as a mould), alarm clock bells (using ramekins as moulds) and a flower (using wire as a frame). At this point I covered the body in white acrylic paint, this evened out the finish (neutralising most of the newspaper print). Instead of covering the entire surface in a solid acrylic, I did painted some areas with a diluted white acrylic (like a wash); this allowed specific headlines to show through when viewed closely, headlines or stories pertaining to ‘IVF’, ‘neutering’, ‘adoption’, ‘surrogacy’, ‘blood’ and ‘surgery’.
Clock: This was to symbolise my internal ‘fertility’ clock. This clock is stopped. However set within the clock itself was still the sound of ticking (obtained via a metronome app on a phone). It conveys the conflict between my physical reality and how I feel. On the face of the clock, in the time slots, words are found which represent the state of conflict I was in. The words opposite one another display this conflict; for example, HEAL & BROKEN.
Heart: This element was moulded from clay, enabling me to curve the heart to the chest. It is painted in vibrant, almost comic like style, with a fracture down the centre to match the rip in the chest. From the heart’s fracture hangs a single tear, with the word FUTURE in it.
Flower: This is painted brightly, like the heart. The paint is smooth on the stem and leaf but textured on the centre of the flower. It has a lone petal still attached made from moulded clay. On the petal is the word LOSS. The flower sits within a mound of soil in the outstretched hand, representing a source of life. There is also a fallen petal sitting in between the fingers of the outstretched hand.
Petals: Around the base of the sculpture are the rest of the fallen petals, each in a different colour and with their own emotion placed upon it. ALONE, BROKEN, STOLEN, ISOLATED, GRIEVING & WORTHLESS.
Resolution: The design of the sculpture communicated my personal journey to the audience with honest emotion. I found this project to be such a hugely cathartic process and it forced me to confront emotions that I had left boxed up for years. At the end of this journey I felt much lighter, as though a weight had been lifted from the back of my mind, it was a very freeing experience. The sculpture is affectionately known as Hysterectomy Hermione, and nowadays she resides in my very small lounge room, where she is often obstructing the walkway and getting under foot… what better description of her purpose can there be!