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Violet Manthorpe, Big Picture, Hobart City High School

In collaboration with Dr Jessica Collins, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, UTAS

Artist’s Statement

I went to the Menzies Research Institute and saw the scientific equipment that Dr Jessica Collins is using to study dementia and the changes in the brain.  For this artwork, I used ball point pens and paper. I used up a lot of pens to do this work. I’ve never used up a whole pen before. The old, leaky pens represent the disintegration of the brain. To contrast, the glass represents the cleanliness of the scientific research that Dr Jess does. 

This collection of drawings shows the disease spreading. The white spaces make more sense because they are all connected. They symbolise the cells in the brain (neurons) that are still functioning normally.  The black patterns are separated and inconsistent, representing the breakdown of connections between the brain cells and the loss of important pathways for normal thinking and memory. Each shape is determined by the shapes around it, this makes it look like it’s a growing organism; like disease, spreading. It’s deliberately open to interpretation, so I encourage you to look at it from all different angles.

The worst thing to lose is someone you love. Dementia makes it possible to lose someone before they have died. It would be a horrible experience to be so close to someone, but they are so distant from you. Suddenly you know so much about them that even they don’t know. Those memories are no longer shared with this person.

Photographer: Peter Whyte

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