Mixed media, including Celotex, Idenden, wood, brick dust in painted mild steel vitrine
180 x 210 x 100 cm
Organ Donor Memorial supported by The Organ Donation Committee (Barts Health NHS Trust), Vital Arts and NHS Blood and Transplant
Location: Entrance Lobby to the Renal Unit of the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel
Memory is one of the central themes running through my practice. Over our lifetimes, we build up a repository of vivid experiences and meaningful moments, that we nurture and carry along with us. This process, sometimes intuitive, and at other times deliberately selective, takes on a life and a currency of its own. Just as a place is not merely a physical location but becomes integrated and contextualised by a person’s particular experience of it, so it is with people, conversations and other significant moments.
To me, memories are just as vital and integral to life and existence as any bodily organ.
When we look at people, we see their outward appearance, which is extremely diverse across the world, but inside we are all flesh, blood and bone. What fundamentally distinguishes us is our memory, the events of our lives.
The phenomenon of organ donation brings a new imaginative dimension to the notion of what it is to be alive.
The sculpture explores the notion of continuity: of memory over and beyond lifetime, and of the gift of donation, where a person gives an organ so that another can live; but also that in doing so, a part of the donor’s body is offered a new lease of life.
As part of the development of the work, I would spent time with patients, donors and their families. Through a series of conversations, I invited them to share significant moments: either in their own lives, in the case of living donors and patients, or in the lives of donors who are no longer here to share them directly.
These were brought together and reimagined to create two nearly identical otherworldly landscapes, covered in red brick dust. The “mindscapes” are a hybrid: physically, they are expressed as places, but emotionally, they are portraits embodying a personal memory and feeling. The two mindscapes are housed in a custom-designed steel vitrine. Looking at it, you see the mindscape above the horizon, mirrored underneath, to evoke the two parts that together make us human: the seen and the unseen.
The project emerged from a request by the Organ Donation Committee for a permanent artwork that would commemorate donors, as well as raise awareness of organ donation.
For more information or to register organ donation decisions, visit www.organdonation.org.uk, use the NHS app or call 0300 123 23 23. Users of the NHS app can also check or amend their decision.
Photography by Angus Mill.