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The Headcase Project

headcase show invite Headcase headcase show 1 Headcase family Headcase show Caroline Jones Headcase show Melanie_Caroline_EHW

In 2013, artist Caroline Jones invited me and 11 other artists to make work in response to her bald head- resulting from her treatment for breast cancer.

 

My work with Caroline, in film and photographs captured her thoughts on feeling as though there was a war raging in her brain. Archive film of London during the blitz was projected on her head and photographer Frank Balbi Hansen and I recorded these sessions.

 

Four year later, Caroline secured an exhibition space in the HeARTh Gallery at the University Hospital in Llandough, Cardiff, managed by Melanie Wooton.  Headcase was on show to hospital staff, patients and visitors from October 9 - 30 2017.

 

Fellow artists: Brian Davis, David X Green, Mandee Gage, Frank Balbi Hansen, Michael Moustafi, Keith Van Loen, Annalouise Oakland, Valerio Oliviera, Geraldine Pilgrim, Jane Ripley, Leigh Koh-Peart  and Caroline Jones.  

Headcase 4

Melanie Wooton, Caroline Jones, Eileen Haring Woods

Caroline Jones

Eileen Haring Woods; Surface and Headspace 360

headcase 5 headcase 6

Surface and Headspace 360 film  2'22"  silent

Show text by Caroline Jones

 

I am a patient

I am myself, but not myself

 

The Headcase Project is a collaboration between artists:

 

Frank Balbi Hansen       architect. photographer    

Brian Davis                     journalist. cartoonist          

Mandee Gage                artist. ceramicist                

David X Green               photographer

Caroline Jones               artist. designer  

Keith Van Loen              photographer

Michael Moustafi            cinematographer

Annalouise Oakland       artist

Valerio Oliviera              dancer. teacher. artist      

Geraldine Pilgrim           artist. director                  

Leigh Koh-Peart             culinary icing artist

Eileen Haring Woods     artist. filmmaker

 

Caroline Jones – Artist and Curator

The journey through diagnosis and cancer treatment is a rollercoaster of thoughts, feelings and physical challenges. When my hair started falling out in clumps I called my friend Mandee, ‘HELP I can’t stand this anymore!’ So she shaved the rest off. The weight was lifted and the head exposed. What a relief.

 

As an artist I sought to understand what was happening to me by inviting other artists to collaborate. I became, an object of investigation, a blank canvas, and a muse. Together we explored the world of the cancer patient and emergent themes of shock, confusion, hope, fear, mortality and self.

 

Maybe I wanted distraction, maybe I just wanted to have my friends around me.

The Headcase Project filled the time; talking to the other artists about what was going on, what was on my mind and what was on theirs.  

The resultant images exceeded my initial expectations and I am grateful for the opportunity to share them. It has been a remarkable experience to be the subject, the object and the curator of this show.

 

Cellmate

The first photo shoot with David Green I imagined would be glamorous, diamantes in the shape of a cancer cell glued onto my bald head, quite abstract, sparkly.  But the most striking image was hard for me to live with at first, not glamorous but stark. It arrested me, it challenged me. Gradually I managed to detach from the image and realized that David had captured something special. A kind of ‘so I’ve got cancer god damn you’, ‘here’s my badge, here’s what’s happening’.

 

Which hat to wear

I bought a wig, but only wore it once. I made hats, some more successful than others.

At first I thought it was what was on my head that was important. Together with Keith Van Loen (photographer) we experimented with different ideas: a variety of objects attached or growing out of my head. These experiments were like a first draft of possibilities; as the Headcase project developed we expanded the field and started looking at my head in different environments.

 

Keep calm and carry on

Something that happens when you get a cancer diagnosis: you are bombarded by information from all sides. Every man and his dog tells you stories about so and so who went to the Andes and drank knat’s piss, or so and so who meditated on the horseradish plant or so and so who was injected with dolphin sperm….and was cured.

 

Brian Davis (cartoonist) helped me visualize this dilemma.

Chemo is a tough route, it is the one offered by the NHS, and despite the fact that it has numerous downsides, I chose this treatment rather than embark on months of research into alternative cures which might or might not work.

Some questions do arise from this and it is worth watching a series of videos made by Ty Bolinger called the Truth about Cancer in which he investigates cancer treatments from around the world. I watched these videos a while after my treatment and if I were to get cancer again I would certainly explore these further.

 

Danger Unexploded Bomb series

When I started having the second round of chemo with Doxetaxel I was stuck to the couch for a week.  I watched series after series of Poirot, Midsummer Murders, Home or Away and Move to the Country ad nauseam. The skin peeled off the soles of my feet and then my toe and fingernails started falling out which was freaky, it was like my body was out of control. (To reassure you, this doesn’t happen to everyone, the dose was a bit high to start.)

There is a lot of talk about fighting cancer; getting the better of it. Although I don’t buy into this rhetoric, the second round of chemo with docetaxel did give me the sense of being inhabited by an alien.

It is well worth checking out The Personal is Rhetorical: War, Protest, and Peace in Breast Cancer Narratives Kristen Garrison Midwestern State University

Here is a quote from her paper:

 

Our unquestioning acceptance of validated cancer narratives as guidebooks for living with the disease negatively impacts our ability to support our family and friends who are trying to recover, and who may very well die from it. If we buy into the rhetoric of triumph, we hold unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others.

 

Surface video

The drug induced bodily reactions and the sense of being in other hands (however well meaning) makes one feel so powerless

Together with Eileen Haring Woods we explored the body in limbo and anxiety about the effects of chemo, we hired a smoke machine and found old news footage of London during the blitz; projections of bombed out buildings, rubble, and people walking amongst the rubble. My body felt like that, felt like a bomb site.

Frank Balbi Hansen was also there taking stills.

 

Haze or Chemo brain was part of the same series but a different mood: a twilight zone. Being a patient requires patience; a fuzziness creeps in.

Some survivors complain that it doesn’t stop after treatment i.e. they feel tired, can’t concentrate and have memory problems. For me it seemed to have a lot to do with the treatment itself and being a cancer patient, with endless trips to the hospital and sitting around waiting…. and waiting….

 

Inevitably, whilst waiting and not knowing how everything will turn out, anxiety creeps in. Will I die?

 

The Vanitas series is based on 17th century still life paintings, (All is Vanity).

Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit (decay); bubbles (the brevity of life and suddenness of death); smoke, watches, and hourglasses (the brevity of life); and musical instruments (brevity and the ephemeral nature of life). Fruit, flowers and butterflies can be interpreted in the same way, and a peeled lemon was, like life, attractive to look at but bitter to taste.

We didn’t include all these symbols, but the concept was our inspiration. My favourite image includes objects that have been part of my life.

 

It is enough to reflect, and easy to forget the reality of death as we forge through life.

 

But while we are still alive, it’s good to have a bit of fun. Not fun in the future, fun now.

 

The Fudge It series.

Jane Ripley and I have been colleagues for some time, we both enjoy a background in theatre and carnival design.  Jane said icing, let’s do it all with icing. So I said OK and built an 18th century wig base. We also met the lovely Leigh Koh Pert who agreed to ice the construction. What fantastical creations they made way back then, and all on their heads, like ships in the night. Did it say who they were, not exactly, but it seems like an extension of the brain.

After that I made another couple of bases including the Desert Island or If I was Iphigenia I’d want to be somewhere else. - Wish you weren’t here and the Tit ‘s a lovely day cupcake construction. The desert island idea came from the feeling of being very alone.

Icing was a bitter sweet medium: my head was covered with butter icing in the shape of a brain: slowly, it melted and fell onto the table We laughed; we were all high on sugar but the image of the melted brain, which looks like I’m vomiting, sums up how helpless one can feel.

 

Where Am I series

Frank was there through it all (taking photos) and he said, I would like to do a series.  At this time I was in litigation over my father’s estate and I found myself in an agony of doubt, the way forward was a question mark: am I just a patient, what happens next, where am I? We talked about ‘where am I’. Where am I now after all this. and he had me lie in all corners of the house. Under the table, behind a door, in the loft, on the roof.

Frank Balbi Hansen has a strong sense of composition which probably comes from his experience as an architect in Venezuela. He has been responsible for many images in this show and has become a great friend.

 

Waiting For The Sun

Mandee Gage has an interesting view of things.  My hair, very short like newly grown grass, is organised with small figures. Some are gardening, some are moonwalking across my head.

‘The garden can be seen as a long project, the planting, tending and physical work; rain comes and frost bites. We wait for the sun.’

 

Michael Moustafi who photographed Mandee’s work has a cinematographer’s eye for detail, he is also a sculptor of special effects. I am amazed by the 3d ness of his photos. Please see Michaels portrait of me No. 69 girl with the Crab earring.

 

I am very happy to be able to showcase the work of these fellow artists who gave their time so generously to be part of the Headcase project.

When I look at the images, I hardly recognise myself.  It happens to be me but it could be anyone.

 

Thanks to all the people who contributed to the Headcase Exhibition fund without whose support the exhibition would not have been possible. Menor Photo for giving us a 50% discount on printing and mounting. Edward Mawby and Stuart Waplington,

Jesse Jones, Elaine Paton and many others.

cli

Brian Davis                     journalist. cartoonist          

Mandee Gage                artist. ceramicist                

David X Green                photographer

Caroline Jones               artist. designer  

Keith Van Loen              photographer

Michael Moustafi          cinematographer

Annalouse Oakland       artist

Valerio Oliviera              dancer. teacher. artist      

Geraldine Pilgrim           artist. director                  

Leigh Koh-Peart              culinary icing artist

Eileen Haring Woods     artist. filmmaker

 

Caroline Jones – Artist and Curator

The journey through diagnosis and cancer treatment is a rollercoaster of thoughts, feelings and physical challenges. When my hair started falling out in clumps I called my friend Mandee, ‘HELP I can’t stand this anymore!’ So she shaved the rest off. The weight was lifted and the head exposed. What a relief.

 

As an artist I sought to understand what was happening to me by inviting other artists to collaborate. I became, an object of investigation, a blank canvas, and a muse. Together we explored the world of the cancer patient and emergent themes of shock, confusion, hope, fear, mortality and self.

 

Maybe I wanted distraction, maybe I just wanted to have my friends around me.

The Headcase Project filled the time; talking to the other artists about what was going on, what was on my mind and what was on theirs.  

The resultant images exceeded my initial expectations and I am grateful for the opportunity to share them. It has been a remarkable experience to be the subject, the object and the curator of this show.

 

Cellmate

The first photo shoot with David Green I imagined would be glamorous, diamantes in the shape of a cancer cell glued onto my bald head, quite abstract, sparkly.  But the most striking image was hard for me to live with at first, not glamorous but stark. It arrested me, it challenged me. Gradually I managed to detach from the image and realized that David had captured something special. A kind of ‘so I’ve got cancer god damn you’, ‘here’s my badge, here’s what’s happening’.

 

Which hat to wear

I bought a wig, but only wore it once. I made hats, some more successful than others.

At first I thought it was what was on my head that was important. Together with Keith Van Loen (photographer) we experimented with different ideas: a variety of objects attached or growing out of my head. These experiments were like a first draft of possibilities; as the Headcase project developed we expanded the field and started looking at my head in different environments.

 

Keep calm and carry on

Something that happens when you get a cancer diagnosis: you are bombarded by information from all sides. Every man and his dog tells you stories about so and so who went to the Andes and drank knat’s piss, or so and so who meditated on the horseradish plant or so and so who was injected with dolphin sperm….and was cured.

 

Brian Davis (cartoonist) helped me visualize this dilemma.

Chemo is a tough route, it is the one offered by the NHS, and despite the fact that it has numerous downsides, I chose this treatment rather than embark on months of research into alternative cures which might or might not work.

Some questions do arise from this and it is worth watching a series of videos made by Ty Bolinger called the Truth about Cancer in which he investigates cancer treatments from around the world. I watched these videos a while after my treatment and if I were to get cancer again I would certainly explore these further.

 

Danger Unexploded Bomb series

When I started having the second round of chemo with Doxetaxel I was stuck to the couch for a week.  I watched series after series of Poirot, Midsummer Murders, Home or Away and Move to the Country ad nauseam. The skin peeled off the soles of my feet and then my toe and fingernails started falling out which was freaky, it was like my body was out of control. (To reassure you, this doesn’t happen to everyone, the dose was a bit high to start.)

There is a lot of talk about fighting cancer; getting the better of it. Although I don’t buy into this rhetoric, the second round of chemo with docetaxel did give me the sense of being inhabited by an alien.

It is well worth checking out The Personal is Rhetorical: War, Protest, and Peace in Breast Cancer Narratives Kristen Garrison Midwestern State University

Here is a quote from her paper:

 

Our unquestioning acceptance of validated cancer narratives as guidebooks for living with the disease negatively impacts our ability to support our family and friends who are trying to recover, and who may very well die from it. If we buy into the rhetoric of triumph, we hold unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others.

 

Surface video

The drug induced bodily reactions and the sense of being in other hands (however well meaning) makes one feel so powerless

Together with Eileen Haring Woods we explored the body in limbo and anxiety about the effects of chemo, we hired a smoke machine and found old news footage of London during the blitz; projections of bombed out buildings, rubble, and people walking amongst the rubble. My body felt like that, felt like a bomb site.

Frank Balbi Hansen was also there taking stills.

 

Haze or Chemo brain was part of the same series but a different mood: a twilight zone. Being a patient requires patience; a fuzziness creeps in.

Some survivors complain that it doesn’t stop after treatment i.e. they feel tired, can’t concentrate and have memory problems. For me it seemed to have a lot to do with the treatment itself and being a cancer patient, with endless trips to the hospital and sitting around waiting…. and waiting….

 

Inevitably, whilst waiting and not knowing how everything will turn out, anxiety creeps in. Will I die?

 

The Vanitas series is based on 17th century still life paintings, (All is Vanity).

Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit (decay); bubbles (the brevity of life and suddenness of death); smoke, watches, and hourglasses (the brevity of life); and musical instruments (brevity and the ephemeral nature of life). Fruit, flowers and butterflies can be interpreted in the same way, and a peeled lemon was, like life, attractive to look at but bitter to taste.

We didn’t include all these symbols, but the concept was our inspiration. My favourite image includes objects that have been part of my life.

 

It is enough to reflect, and easy to forget the reality of death as we forge through life.

 

But while we are still alive, it’s good to have a bit of fun. Not fun in the future, fun now.

 

The Fudge It series.

Jane Ripley and I have been colleagues for some time, we both enjoy a background in theatre and carnival design.  Jane said icing, let’s do it all with icing. So I said OK and built an 18th century wig base. We also met the lovely Leigh Koh Pert who agreed to ice the construction. What fantastical creations they made way back then, and all on their heads, like ships in the night. Did it say who they were, not exactly, but it seems like an extension of the brain.

After that I made another couple of bases including the Desert Island or If I was Iphigenia I’d want to be somewhere else. - Wish you weren’t here and the Tit ‘s a lovely day cupcake construction. The desert island idea came from the feeling of being very alone.

Icing was a bitter sweet medium: my head was covered with butter icing in the shape of a brain: slowly, it melted and fell onto the table We laughed; we were all high on sugar but the image of the melted brain, which looks like I’m vomiting, sums up how helpless one can feel.

 

Where Am I series

Frank was there through it all (taking photos) and he said, I would like to do a series.  At this time I was in litigation over my father’s estate and I found myself in an agony of doubt, the way forward was a question mark: am I just a patient, what happens next, where am I? We talked about ‘where am I’. Where am I now after all this. and he had me lie in all corners of the house. Under the table, behind a door, in the loft, on the roof.

Frank Balbi Hansen has a strong sense of composition which probably comes from his experience as an architect in Venezuela. He has been responsible for many images in this show and has become a great friend.

 

Waiting For The Sun

Mandee Gage has an interesting view of things.  My hair, very short like newly grown grass, is organised with small figures. Some are gardening, some are moonwalking across my head.

‘The garden can be seen as a long project, the planting, tending and physical work; rain comes and frost bites. We wait for the sun.’

 

Michael Moustafi who photographed Mandee’s work has a cinematographer’s eye for detail, he is also a sculptor of special effects. I am amazed by the 3d ness of his photos. Please see Michaels portrait of me No. 69 girl with the Crab earring.

 

I am very happy to be able to showcase the work of these fellow artists who gave their time so generously to be part of the Headcase project.

When I look at the images, I hardly recognise myself.  It happens to be me but it could be anyone.

 

Thanks to all the people who contributed to the Headcase Exhibition fund without whose support the exhibition would not have been possible. Menor Photo for giving us a 50% discount on printing and mounting. Edward Mawby and Stuart Waplington,

Jesse Jones, Elaine Paton and many others.

 

patient

I am myself, but not myself

 

The Headcase Project is a collaboration between artists:

 

Frank Balbi Hansen      architect. photographer    

Brian Davis                     journalist. cartoonist          

Mandee Gage                artist. ceramicist                

David X Green                photographer

Caroline Jones               artist. designer  

Keith Van Loen              photographer

Michael Moustafi          cinematographer

Annalouse Oakland       artist

Valerio Oliviera              dancer. teacher. artist      

Geraldine Pilgrim           artist. director                  

Leigh Koh-Peart              culinary icing artist

Eileen Haring Woods     artist. filmmaker

 

Caroline Jones – Artist and Curator

The journey through diagnosis and cancer treatment is a rollercoaster of thoughts, feelings and physical challenges. When my hair started falling out in clumps I called my friend Mandee, ‘HELP I can’t stand this anymore!’ So she shaved the rest off. The weight was lifted and the head exposed. What a relief.

 

As an artist I sought to understand what was happening to me by inviting other artists to collaborate. I became, an object of investigation, a blank canvas, and a muse. Together we explored the world of the cancer patient and emergent themes of shock, confusion, hope, fear, mortality and self.

 

Maybe I wanted distraction, maybe I just wanted to have my friends around me.

The Headcase Project filled the time; talking to the other artists about what was going on, what was on my mind and what was on theirs.  

The resultant images exceeded my initial expectations and I am grateful for the opportunity to share them. It has been a remarkable experience to be the subject, the object and the curator of this show.

 

Cellmate

The first photo shoot with David Green I imagined would be glamorous, diamantes in the shape of a cancer cell glued onto my bald head, quite abstract, sparkly.  But the most striking image was hard for me to live with at first, not glamorous but stark. It arrested me, it challenged me. Gradually I managed to detach from the image and realized that David had captured something special. A kind of ‘so I’ve got cancer god damn you’, ‘here’s my badge, here’s what’s happening’.

 

Which hat to wear

I bought a wig, but only wore it once. I made hats, some more successful than others.

At first I thought it was what was on my head that was important. Together with Keith Van Loen (photographer) we experimented with different ideas: a variety of objects attached or growing out of my head. These experiments were like a first draft of possibilities; as the Headcase project developed we expanded the field and started looking at my head in different environments.

 

Keep calm and carry on

Something that happens when you get a cancer diagnosis: you are bombarded by information from all sides. Every man and his dog tells you stories about so and so who went to the Andes and drank knat’s piss, or so and so who meditated on the horseradish plant or so and so who was injected with dolphin sperm….and was cured.

 

Brian Davis (cartoonist) helped me visualize this dilemma.

Chemo is a tough route, it is the one offered by the NHS, and despite the fact that it has numerous downsides, I chose this treatment rather than embark on months of research into alternative cures which might or might not work.

Some questions do arise from this and it is worth watching a series of videos made by Ty Bolinger called the Truth about Cancer in which he investigates cancer treatments from around the world. I watched these videos a while after my treatment and if I were to get cancer again I would certainly explore these further.

 

Danger Unexploded Bomb series

When I started having the second round of chemo with Doxetaxel I was stuck to the couch for a week.  I watched series after series of Poirot, Midsummer Murders, Home or Away and Move to the Country ad nauseam. The skin peeled off the soles of my feet and then my toe and fingernails started falling out which was freaky, it was like my body was out of control. (To reassure you, this doesn’t happen to everyone, the dose was a bit high to start.)

There is a lot of talk about fighting cancer; getting the better of it. Although I don’t buy into this rhetoric, the second round of chemo with docetaxel did give me the sense of being inhabited by an alien.

It is well worth checking out The Personal is Rhetorical: War, Protest, and Peace in Breast Cancer Narratives Kristen Garrison Midwestern State University

Here is a quote from her paper:

 

Our unquestioning acceptance of validated cancer narratives as guidebooks for living with the disease negatively impacts our ability to support our family and friends who are trying to recover, and who may very well die from it. If we buy into the rhetoric of triumph, we hold unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others.

 

Surface video

The drug induced bodily reactions and the sense of being in other hands (however well meaning) makes one feel so powerless

Together with Eileen Haring Woods we explored the body in limbo and anxiety about the effects of chemo, we hired a smoke machine and found old news footage of London during the blitz; projections of bombed out buildings, rubble, and people walking amongst the rubble. My body felt like that, felt like a bomb site.

Frank Balbi Hansen was also there taking stills.

 

Haze or Chemo brain was part of the same series but a different mood: a twilight zone. Being a patient requires patience; a fuzziness creeps in.

Some survivors complain that it doesn’t stop after treatment i.e. they feel tired, can’t concentrate and have memory problems. For me it seemed to have a lot to do with the treatment itself and being a cancer patient, with endless trips to the hospital and sitting around waiting…. and waiting….

 

Inevitably, whilst waiting and not knowing how everything will turn out, anxiety creeps in. Will I die?

 

The Vanitas series is based on 17th century still life paintings, (All is Vanity).

Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit (decay); bubbles (the brevity of life and suddenness of death); smoke, watches, and hourglasses (the brevity of life); and musical instruments (brevity and the ephemeral nature of life). Fruit, flowers and butterflies can be interpreted in the same way, and a peeled lemon was, like life, attractive to look at but bitter to taste.

We didn’t include all these symbols, but the concept was our inspiration. My favourite image includes objects that have been part of my life.

 

It is enough to reflect, and easy to forget the reality of death as we forge through life.

 

But while we are still alive, it’s good to have a bit of fun. Not fun in the future, fun now.

 

The Fudge It series.

Jane Ripley and I have been colleagues for some time, we both enjoy a background in theatre and carnival design.  Jane said icing, let’s do it all with icing. So I said OK and built an 18th century wig base. We also met the lovely Leigh Koh Pert who agreed to ice the construction. What fantastical creations they made way back then, and all on their heads, like ships in the night. Did it say who they were, not exactly, but it seems like an extension of the brain.

After that I made another couple of bases including the Desert Island or If I was Iphigenia I’d want to be somewhere else. - Wish you weren’t here and the Tit ‘s a lovely day cupcake construction. The desert island idea came from the feeling of being very alone.

Icing was a bitter sweet medium: my head was covered with butter icing in the shape of a brain: slowly, it melted and fell onto the table We laughed; we were all high on sugar but the image of the melted brain, which looks like I’m vomiting, sums up how helpless one can feel.

 

Where Am I series

Frank was there through it all (taking photos) and he said, I would like to do a series.  At this time I was in litigation over my father’s estate and I found myself in an agony of doubt, the way forward was a question mark: am I just a patient, what happens next, where am I? We talked about ‘where am I’. Where am I now after all this. and he had me lie in all corners of the house. Under the table, behind a door, in the loft, on the roof.

Frank Balbi Hansen has a strong sense of composition which probably comes from his experience as an architect in Venezuela. He has been responsible for many images in this show and has become a great friend.

 

Waiting For The Sun

Mandee Gage has an interesting view of things.  My hair, very short like newly grown grass, is organised with small figures. Some are gardening, some are moonwalking across my head.

‘The garden can be seen as a long project, the planting, tending and physical work; rain comes and frost bites. We wait for the sun.’

 

Michael Moustafi who photographed Mandee’s work has a cinematographer’s eye for detail, he is also a sculptor of special effects. I am amazed by the 3d ness of his photos. Please see Michaels portrait of me No. 69 girl with the Crab earring.

 

I am very happy to be able to showcase the work of these fellow artists who gave their time so generously to be part of the Headcase project.

When I look at the images, I hardly recognise myself.  It happens to be me but it could be anyone.

 

Thanks to all the people who contributed to the Headcase Exhibition fund without whose support the exhibition would not have been possible. Menor Photo for giving us a 50% discount on printing and mounting. Edward Mawby and Stuart Waplington,

Jesse Jones, Elaine Paton and many others.

 

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