However outré, none of the brands at this month’s fashion fair have what we will have soon: A dress made entirely out of pills woven into fine, black fabric. Spectacular and (thought) provoking, the art work tries to visualize the cluster of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions (often referred to as ‘metabolic syndrome’), as well as related complications like depression and pain, that is one of the great health problems of our time.
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In the art work, the 10 year medical records of two women living with chronic metabolic diseases, come together to form one larger-than-life pill dress. When the summer was at its hottest, Bente and I went to London to talk to the two women behind the dress: Dr. Liz Lee and artist Susie Freeman of Pharmacopoeia.
[flickr id=”9546559560″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”large” group=”” align=”right”]At her consultation in Bristol, Liz introduced us to her patient Jaz, who has ‘donated’ her medical record to form part of the basis for the artwork. The discussion quickly became very open and personal. Because these metabolic diseases are both dependent on genetic predispositions as well as personal life style, any one of us who have had diabetes in the family or are a little bigger around the waist (not even a lot, < 80 cm. for women) might be at risk. This is why it is so important to raise awareness about in a non-didactic, personal and visual way, and that is just what art can do.[flickr id=”9499028681″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”large” group=”” align=”left”] Next day we went to Susie’s lovely but sizzling hot Notting Hill studio. Dominating the room was the huge, black dress base, not yet covered in its pill fabric. Susie demonstrated her beautiful old industrial loom, which she has readjusted to knit fabric with build-in pockets for the thousands of little pills. She showed us sketches and fabric samples with different pills and packings, and how the weight, colour and shine of the pills lends the black fabric a different feel and texture.
I will upload a short teaser film of the dress ‘in the making’ as soon as I’ve finished editing it, so you can get an idea of the textuality (and size!) of the art work. The dress itself will be installed in our entrance hall, opening on this year’s Culture Night, October 11th.