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'What Lies Behind' & 'WOMAN THROWS HERSELF FROM A WINDOW.', 2022

This collection of work was inspired by the University of Dundee Archives and developed for their 2022 exhibition Tales of the Unexpected held in the Lamb Gallery.

 
What Lies Behind detail, 2022, Cyanotype on Scottish Linen.
The casebook and excerpts on display as part of the Tales of the Unexpected exhibition.

What Lies Behind

2022, Cyanotype on Scottish Linen.


After a morning immersed in the large tome, Case Book No. 38 (Dundee Female Lunatic Asylum 1893, No. 5133 to No. 5482, From 25 August 1893 to 12 September 1895), something emerged in my periphery, a pattern repeated, and remained constant.

The whirling Gothic floral forms appliqued

onto the Victorian wall-hanging reached out towards me from behind the figures positioned in front.


The use of Cyanotype, a photographic practice, is a gesture towards the photo documentation as an integral and yet invasive aspect of the medical intake process. The surface, a base material of Scottish linen from the last Scottish linen mill (now since closed in 2021), weaves in the daily experiences of many of the female patients, and their rolls as millworkers in Dundee.


The pattern has become more than a background to their stories; it has a resonance – it is a presence in and of itself.

What Lies Behind, 2022, Cyanotype on Scottish Linen.
 
WOMAN THROWS HERSELF FROM A WINDOW. detail 2022, Cyanotype and laser etching on Fabriano.

WOMAN THROWS HERSELF FROM A WINDOW. 2022, Cyanotype and laser etching on Fabriano.


The morning after I read this short newspaper article pasted into the asylum casebook during my visit to the archives, I walked through the city centre and made a visit to the site of the accident on Foundry Lane, close to the harbour in Dundee. As I stood looking down the narrow-cobbled road, an image developed in my mind – my right hand reaches out toward hers, to hold her, to catch her, to break her fall.


WOMAN THROWS HERSELF FROM A WINDOW. 2022, Cyanotype and laser etching on Fabriano.

threw herself


Saturday evening

second storey window

clothes off

suddenly

before


she could be restrained

threw herself

to the street

below

right arm frac t u red

right wrist dis located

head seriously injured

removal to Infirmary

last night she was

progressing favourably.


 

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