mixed media, mussel shells, 14”
My Beautiful Death
This piece was created from mussel shells whose beautiful striations provided a wonderful representation of muscle fibre along with a lovely pun: mussels formed his muscles. The internal organs were also devised from seashells, expressing not only our symbiotic relationships with the eco-system, but also “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” (Ernst Haeckel); that our own cellular development echoes the history of evolution and that all stages of all life are contained within us.
Constructed over a period of more than 14 years, which included seven and one half years of actual labour, I required that the creation of the body would have to be constrained by the available shapes, colour and striations of the actual mussel shells. This meant sifting through thousands of shells, often seeking the freaks or the injured whose self healing provided unique shape and form. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to me, the shells were contaminated with heavy metals: arsenic, mercury and lead.
My process of fine grinding and shaping created a very fine dust through which I experienced a “chronic exposure” to the heavy metals. I became extremely ill, finally suffering unrecoverable neurological damage and other serious long term health implications before the poisoning was finally discovered by my medical practitioners. Hence, “My beautiful Death”.
Inadvertently, I had become part of my artistic statement.
A key inserted into his rectum causes his penis to pop up in full erection.
Musing that woman was not made from Adam’s rib, Adam’s ribcage was constructed from “beaver” (beaver skull). His passion and our continuance is expressed when a key, inserted in his rectum, causes his penis to pop up into a full erection.
His heart (a fragile brachiopod) displays an opal (symbolizing hope for our planet) where the shell’s inhabitant one resided.
Re-expressing what should have been our first human perceptions of the ecosystem, his brain contains butterfly pupae and a filigree depiction of an intercellular/inter-ecosystem network as he ponders our place in the world.