Catriona Sheppard   


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INHABITING THE SICK SPACE, INCLUSIVE ARTS SPACE MA


“ I haven’t left the house in a long time. Sometimes I look for the door…Sometimes I put my hand to the wall to see whether it is beating like some large organ with nerves and veins under its sleek surface…I am mistress of the house”

-       Marie Darrieussecq, Dans la maison de Louise




This work is a response to my arts-based research project which explored how illustrative practices can support collaboration between young adults (aged 18-25) with chronic pain related conditions. Chronically ill individuals can feel isolated by their body, surroundings and interactions, often spending the majority of time at home. For young people, this is on top of the already physically and mentally demanding period of adolescence and young adulthood.

My lived experience of being chronically ill from a young age provided a starting point for my research with Charlotte, who I invited to participate in 5 sessions at the Phoenix Art Space, Brighton. During the research we explored how disabled and chronically ill bodies interact with each other and how lived experience effects the process of research and facilitation. 

As Charlotte and I worked together through creative activities such as life drawing, printing, collaging, and journaling, I became aware of the process of bringing our body and sick spaces into a new environment outside of the places we live. The body-like tissue of the opaque physical barrier I have created around my bed lets fragments in and out, both revealing and hiding the outside and inside from each other. It aims to reflect the process of a chronically ill participant and researcher navigating the private and public spaces our sick bodies are tied to, combatting the gaze that often permeates through them.