H – 12, W – 49, D – 40
Materials: upholstery fabric samples, stainless steel wire, nickel plated beads.
Techniques: hand cut circles threaded onto wire in stripes and arranged to represent Chromosomes in free form.
A Karyotype showing 3 pairs of #21 Chromosomes gives a diagnosis of Trisomy 21 Down Syndrome. This work, showing those same Chromosomes in a free state, represents the person behind the diagnosis; their uniqueness, layers and complexity, likes and dislikes, hopes, dreams and passionate love of life.
This Work: ‘Behind the Diagnosis’
This series of work began in response to my frustrating experience applying for a disability support pension for my 16 year old son who has Down Syndrome, which involved an arduous series of steps over 5 months, through a system which is incompetent and lacking in compassion. This made me more determined to fight for recognition of him as a human being.
The basis of the work is the Karyotype of the Chromosomes; the scanned image of this shown to me at his birth, I kept going back to in my mind. (A set of the 23 chromosome pairs are laid out in numerical order. If there are three instead of two pairs of number 21 chromosome, this leads to a diagnosis of Trisomy 21 – Down Syndrome).
I was inspired by Karyotype images where striped diagrams of black and white lines appear in pairs of varying set lengths. I first made a standard Down Syndrome Karyotype cut from my jeans, and my husband’s business shirts, then sets with discarded upholstery fabric samples. The beauty, high contrast and the delicacy of each layer helped me to focus on the complexity, uniqueness and personality rather than the cold clinical profile. The slow process of hand cutting the circles assisted my healing. These individual chromosomes were then threaded onto wire and coiled basket-like, looped and woven to show a cheeky personality, a passion for life, hopes and dreams, all the truly human aspects of the person, rather than just a clinical profile.