‘Medical Heirlooms’ – Tamsin Van Essen

Cancer(4-cell)

‘Cancer (4 Cell)’

Cancer(5-cell)1

‘Cancer (5 Cell)’

(Images taken from; http://www.vanessendesign.com/page6.htm)

Through my research into how artists explore the issues of disease within their art, and especially cancer, I stumbled across this body of work by Tamsin Van Essen. The body is called ‘Medical Heirlooms’ and focuses on a form taken from an Apothecary’s jars. The use of the jars as a vessel, standing in place for the body, is interesting; and the use of ceramics creates a sense of etherealness and density, attributing to the metaphorical ‘spiritual weight’ that is imbued upon someone when they are suffering from one of these diseases. The above form, simple in execution, works well to illustrate the way that cancer forms and grows within the body. Cellular growth which spirals out of control, can be witnessed through the simple repetition of form and shape, blending and merging together at the boundaries, coalescing into one large form.

Scars(gold)large

‘Scars (Gold)’

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Scars (Pink)’

Further inspired by how diseases and traumas affect and malform the body, these two pieces interested me; smooth on the outside, but unaware of the mutations going on inside of the ‘vessel’, these pieces remind me somewhat of tumours that appear smooth on the surface. Once they have been cut into and opened, they reveal the true extent of the mutations; this is especially true in he case of teratomas, in which the body goes pretty much insane and crafts bodily features such as teeth, hair bodily organs such as eyes and half formed livers, amongst other things. This is so interesting, it is almost like one is being cloned, albeit poorly, within this self contained world; almost like a womb. The vessel as a womb, the body as a space for growth and evolution, and the tumours are like a separate entity existing within the space within this form, within this body.

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