SILENT EPIDEMIC

I read this week that eating disorders are on the rise again among girls. They are starving themselves in a tragic, tormented attempt to achieve perfection.  It’s been dubbed the ‘silent epidemic’, and is a disease that creeps silently through the country’s schools, colleges, universities and is devastating families.

It is difficult to know how to halt its progress once the illness has taken hold.  It affects boys, too, albeit half as often as girls, and no one can predict where it will strike deepest.  A slew of figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre his week shows the number of teenagers being treated for eating disorders has doubled in just three years to almost 1,700 last year.

That we should resist the temptation to pressurise our offspring to achieve, is self evident.  How to do this is the question; the answer surely must to let light onto the subject.  We must talk about this.  Educate those vulnerable, impressionable minds not to fall prey to their obsession – drip-feed by advertising, fashion and the media – to be the thinnest.

We must use everything we have to counteract this pressure by meeting each ‘perfect’ image with another ‘real’ image of what bodies should look like.  As an artist, images are my stock-in-trade, and I have created a new artwork  called Dis Miss in an effort to throw light onto the relationship we have with our bodies, and the impossibility, for some, to see their own body as others see them.

This line of thought also led me to think about the use of the prefix ‘dis’ when used to express a negative, like ….

distort                                                         dishonest

dislike                                                         disrespect

disengage                                                   disbelieve

disappear                                                    dismember

disable                                                        disappear

distinguish                                                 disperse

disbar                                                         distrait

– and ‘to diss’ it has become a colloquial term meaning to treat someone with disrespect, or ….

to                                   dis miss                              them.

Dis Miss 1A DISS MISS 6

DISS MISS 2 DISS MISS 9 DISS MISS 16

The six ‘doors’ are photopolymer relief prints of ‘normal’ body parts being clutched by anxious, evaluating hands; and these open onto a charcoal drawing of an anorexic woman’s body.  The inside of these doors cast a fluorescent glow onto the wasted body beneath, that, coupled with the words written on them, are my attempt to counteract negative perceptions towards our bodies.

Tum 2 Bum 1 Boob 1

But is it art? It depends where you look!

A reply to Bryan Appleyard. The Sunday Times Culture Supplement

Far be it for me, a humble yet art-world weary arts practitioner, to point out the bleeding’ obvious to Bryan Appleyard and Waldemar Jauszczak, (Sunday Times. June 2015), who have both bemoaned the state of Arts exhibitions as fun-packed, curator-led ‘Entertainment’ and no longer places of enlightenment, knowledge and solitude.  And it is exciting that they have noticed, (should I say, at last?  Possibly not – that would be rude).  But it occurs to me that they are looking in the wrong places, and may have been distracted by the marketing glitz of the arts establishment into visiting their high-profile events at popular, well-funded galleries in central London.

Here’s a revolutionary suggestion.  What if they tried averting their eyes from the glamorous PV invitations that regularly drop onto their doormat (or inbox) and take themselves out to the sticks, where they will find struggling arts practitioners displaying thoughtful and enlightening collections of work, displayed quietly and spaciously on the walls of their Business Park, Wildlife Reserve, Barn and sometimes, backgarden open studios.

Of course, the wheat will not have been separated from the chaff and they might have to cast their gimlet eyes over many miles of walls covered in ‘hobby’ artists’ work of varying quality.  But occasionally they mind find something to reward their effort, they can certainly be assured of a very warm welcome.  You never know if you if you don’t look beyond the obvious.

100_4348 Open studio 1. 2012  100_4354

From a Bucks Open Studios participant.