Mark showed me pictures of a previous project in which wallpaper was hung against the blinds that cover the windows of the gallery. I thought it was a great idea to create posters for six poems and to have them cover the blinds. I wanted to decorate the posters with pictures that are related to medical science so I spent a few days searching in the database of Wellcome Images.
Several images were selected. I found a great lithograph from an anatomy atlas that would become part of all the posters. After that, I had to sort out the copyright license. As long as I put a notification in the posters, it was fine so I continued by designing the posters in Publisher. Mark showed me the colours that are used by The Infirmary museum in its branding guidelines. I used these colours in my design for the posters. For font, I chose Courier New because it matched with the history of the building; courier looks like the font of an old-fashioned typewriter. Font size depended on the size of the posters. Designing the posters was a challenge due to the copyright, the different sizes and editing the picture. In week five we were finally able to send the posters to the printer of the University of Worcester. The biggest posters were 260 by 120 centimetres.
Mark wanted me to use the community case in the corner of the gallery. At the time, it featured works by poet Sipho Eric Dube. I decided that the case would include one of the seven chosen poems. The community case was a great, little project for me. I sketched my ideas first and then we had to do a bit of altering. I came up with the idea to make a brain of steel wool with paperclips and red thread that represents the veins. Matthew’s poems would flow out of the brain and spill out of the case, onto the floor. As the poem flowed out, its font would become bigger and more disruptive which represents the growing chaos of psychosis.
For this exhibit, I chose the poem ‘Controlled by Electricity and a Bush.’ It tells how Matthew has a psychotic episode in an electronics store. Although this would be a very dramatic story, Matthew tells it in a very dry, matter-of-fact tone which shows how this is a normal part of his life. I thought that was very touching. I got all the materials from Worcester’s city centre shops and spent two afternoons surrounded by steel wool and threads. The end result looks very good.
The most difficult part was getting the poem onto a cloth. I figured that this was the best way of conveying my idea of a story ‘spilling out’ of someone’s brain. The poem had to be printed out on transfer paper which had to be purchased via Amazon. The poem had to be printed in reverse and it took a few hours to figure out how to do that. Then we needed an Inkjet printer which was much harder to come by than expected. In the end, I could use the printer of the George Marshall Medical Museum. My colleague Zoe could provide us with an iron. Finally, I got to iron the poem onto a piece of cotton in week six. It took me an entire morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon. In the end, my knees hurt and the cloth was burned at a few places but it looks really nice. A few pins were needed to tuck in unneeded pieces of fabric. The community case is now finished with an accompanying text and a few finishing touches. It is difficult to open the community case by myself and I needed Lewis to help me with lifting it up. In the end, it all worked out fine.
This project required me to have problem-solving skills. In week seven we heard from the printer that the posters were too big. Thanks to everything I had learned before, it was really easy to redo the posters in a suitable size. We were able to hang the posters in my final week.
Lauren Romijn, MA student placement, University of Leicester