I am a recovering heroin addict. I became addicted to prescription painkillers and spent two years in the hell of drug dependency. Now, I make work about that time – hopefully, with the perspective and freedom recovery gives me.
My work explores notions of fragility, femininity, emotional archaeology and corporeal and temporal rites of passage . I excavate my experiences to make work about the psychological state of addiction, working with literature and poetry along with vintage garments, which I believe retain the trace of the internal life of the wearer.
Ophelia was made from the ‘bones’ of my vintage wedding dress which I took apart and reworked, hand-stitching into it Sea Poem by Alice Oswald . The dress was photographed sinking into deep water; a tale of lost femininity. A descent into madness, the residue of my time addicted to the painkillers I was prescribed during long-term illness. It is a literary gesture while speaking of the ritual of marriage, the submersion of the feminine drowning into the intensely soporific yet deadly pleasure of opiate addiction. Ophelia is a large photographic print.
Loss & Restoration 1–5 is an installation involving several elements. I photographed my Victorian nightgown, which was, for me, a symbol of the vulnerability of illness and a sense of something wasting away, like a Victorian consumptive. It is photographed like an X-ray, to suggest the ghost of its wearer.
I then buried the actual nightgown and filmed this ritual and the result was screened alongside the photograph of the garment on a small, vintage television.
Two months later I exhumed the nightgown, recovering the 417 fragments it had rotted down into, and showing them within a museum display case as archaeological findings.
The nightgown underwent an alchemical transformation, much like the journey taken by addicts, such as myself. The exhumed pieces act as a fragile reawakening, a rebirth into remains which speak of beauty and violence, like Sleeping Beauty in all her gory splendour.