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Cancer Can be Beautiful

Cancer Can be Beautiful

Cayde Keough, Big Picture, Hobart City High School 

In collaboration with Dr Kelsie Raspin, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, UTAS

Artist’s Statement

I collaborated with Dr Kelsie Raspin. Dr Raspin studies prostate and breast cancer. She looks at the DNA and spots the difference between affected and unaffected family members, healthy tissue and cancerous tissue. In spotting these differences, Dr Raspin can find out what medications suit the family best and help them protect themselves from the risk of cancer. 

My artwork responds to Dr Raspin’s research with the healing process and finding solutions to get rid of the cancer. I’m focusing on the positive result of having cancer – that is, the scars which symbolise the healing process.

I’ve made two life size pieces. I traced two of my friends, one male and one female, on some cardboard. I didn’t want the design of the people to be too detailed as that would draw attention away from the main focus of the piece, so I just made simple cut-outs. I then proceeded to paint them to match what healthy prostate and breast cells look like underneath a microscope. I added my final touches of the scars which are made from air dry clay with the daffodil flowers growing out of them, which are made from crepe paper and wire. The daffodil is recognised as the symbol of hope for all people affected by cancer. 

To translate the research, I have used the images that Dr Raspin gave us of the cells under a microscope to use for the pattern. I did plenty of research on scars from surgeries, so I had an idea of how to sculpt them. I wanted to focus on the healing process and the positive outcome associated with the scars, as people can find cancer scary, so I made it beautiful.

Photographer: Peter Whyte

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