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24 September 2014

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Getting under society's skin to explore illness

Power Station by Grace Newman
Power Station by Grace Newman
Using medical materials, such as tubing, syringes and hypodermic needles, Grace Newman's sculptures explore life and death in surprisingly beautiful ways.

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If Grace Newman's work makes you feel queasy, you're on her wavelength.

 Piss Fountain by Grace Newman
Piss Fountain by Grace Newman
Grace makes clinical sculptures that explore life, death and illness, so they're not conformable to look at, even though some of them are surprisingly beautiful.

Grace says she doesn't mind if people react strongly to her work: "My intention is to raise awareness around social and health issues and to challenge cultural and social taboos.

"Despair of the aids crisis, invasive disease, death and a struggling welfare state are major concerns in society today, often made worse by media scare mongering. These fears are the underlying ingredient, the edge and tension, in my work."

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See some of Grace's work by clicking the images button below.

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Despair of the aids crisis, invasive disease, death and a struggling welfare state are major concerns in society today... These fears are the underlying ingredient, the edge and tension, in my work.
quote end
Grace Newman
Illness metaphor

Using a quote from Susan Sontag's Illness metaphor, Grace shows how destructive this obsession can be: "We have come to celebrate normality, but simultaneously to live under constant dread of all that which would threaten it."

Grace describes how this single interest has many fascinating aspects.

She says: "The vulnerability of the body, the new territories of the body (such as foreign body parts), our fears, emotional states of illness and death, and the hospital as institution form the basis of my work."

Materials and meaning

 Search by Grace Newman
Search by Grace Newman
Inspiration for Grace's work comes from medical science, literature, new research and discovery and from personal experience of illness.

Her sculptures can also be compared with work by artists like Mona Hatoum, Helen Chadwick, David Mach and Eva Hesse.

She works in a variety of materials, depending on the theme, as she says: "I choose materials that are symbolic of medical science to bring the work into context.

"Transparent materials, such as glass and acrylic, give meanings of fragility and vulnerability and mechanical devices bring life to the work."

Comfort and pain

 Brood (exterior) by Grace Newman
Brood (exterior) by Grace Newman
Grace says she is keen to reflect differing attitudes in the work and she celebrates the contrasting experiences an illness can bring.

She says: "These are expressed by the tensions in the work, such as power and vulnerability, seduction and fear, and comfort and pain."

Grace also uses minimalist influences, such as simplicity, order, geometry and repetition, which is why some of the work is very beautiful, even though it's disturbing.

Everything Grace does is cosidered with the care of a surgeon. As she says: "I feel that the fragile, clinical materials I choose help to create a feeling of awe and wonder of the world of medical science."

More work online

To see more of Grace's work and to contact her about opportunities, please follow the links on the left.

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