WCA Centre for Drawing December 2013 Exhibition

I thought for some time about drawings based on my conversation with Diabetes Consultant Nurse aimed at explaining the complications associated with Type 1 diabetes which Diabetes UK lists as:  Hypos and hyperglycemia, Feet, Cardiovascular disease, Eyes (retinopathy), Nerves (neuropathy), Kidneys (nephropathy), Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS).

I read in Balance Magazine (published by Diabetes UK) an article aimed at people with diabetes explaining the mechanism and effect of neuropathy. I resolved to try some drawings based on the information contained with in the article.


Following the damage caused by high winds and inspired by what I saw at the Paul Klee exhibition, I thought I could depict nerves as telephone wires carrying signals over long distances & being fragile & liable to damage by high winds or in the case of nerves high blood sugars.

Sketch for neuropathy 19 Nov 13We discussed this idea & various ways it could be improved in a tutorial. We thought it could be more colourful & made life size or larger. So far so good. . . However, medically this representation is inaccurate. Nerves don’t break at one point in diabetic neuropathy, the problem lies in the micro-vessels that supply blood to the nervous system that become blocked and broken. This drawing may muddy the water, posing more problems than answers. I began to think of ways of showing a global damage of peripheral nerves, most evident in the longer nerves enervating the hands and feet. I decided to cannibalise some of my life drawings.

Diabetic Neuropathy V1 25 Nov 13Diabetic Neuropathy V2 25 Nov 13Diabetic Neuropathy V2.1 Nov 26 13 copyDiabetic Neuropathy the contentious 3rd version 27 Nov 13

I have recently been experimenting with pastels & thought I could rub out the nerves to demonstrate damage & show a corresponding loss of sensation in the hand & the feet, a common symptom of peripheral diabetic neuropathy, by similar removal of the media. I was quite pleased with approach.

Diabetic Neuropathy V4 02 Dec13

For the final version I moved the figure down the page to fit on more information about neuropathy hopefully complementing what happening in the drawing.

Diabetic Neuropathy V5 03 Dec13 copy

One problem that has been identified as a result of this exercise is how to combine text with the drawing. Clearly, what to write & how to get the text on there requires more work. We decided this drawing was unresolved & a different picture, More Intrusive TV was exhibited.

More Intrusive TV


This picture is based on Seated Old Man by Rembrandt, c1626, Musee du Louvre. I find this drawing interesting because of way Rembrandt works the light. It stuck me that, assuming the old man is inside, the light is coming from at quite a low angle. It reminds of an elderly relative who has fallen asleep in from of the television. How many times has this scene been played out? The TV carries on regardless. In my drawing, unlike Rembrandt’s blind father, the viewer is awake but largely ambivalent (or perhaps just a little bit hostile) to the dancing TV invading their home. It seems to capture what I am often after in some of my studio practice, humour tinged with occasional menace.

 Group Criticism

It was suggested that I try to apply the spiky style of More Intrusive TV to diabetes drawings. If that was happening to me “I wouldn’t be lying down all relaxed like her”. . . good point!


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