This artistic response was developed in response to the Lydia Osteoporosis Project’s (LOP) findings presented to key stakeholders by Dr Margaret Smith, Chief Investigator of the LOP projects. The collaborative nature of all those involved was key to the development of the work, with the researchers, stakeholders and artists working together to share information and processes that fed into the artistic responses.
These images try to encompass the dramatic impact that small actions can have on someone with osteoporosis, illustrating pain, frustration and the limitations of the body. They are not meant as a representation of real-life situations, but are instead an exaggerated response to the findings presented by the LOP team at the beginning of the Creative Workshop session.
Artists Finbow and Schrag facilitated a workshop with volunteer stakeholders (Front-line Nursing staff, Health Care Assistants and Health Care Academics) to explore their collective responses and draw out tacit knowledge about Osteoporosis. The aim of the workshop was to develop creative thinking about working with patients who have or may have Osteoporosis. Part of this process involved the stakeholders creating tissue paper exoskeletons in order to visualise the breaking/snapping of bone, but also to the emotions related to tearing/breaking, as well as the sense of fragility of the body.
In their artistic response to this workshop, Finbow and Schrag were particularly drawn to the aesthetics of the broken exoskeletons. Drawing on their collaborative practice of Performance-For-Camera, they developed a series of images of Schrag seeming to fall/collapse/break. These images are highly dramatic and exaggerated: they bring a sense of bemusement, playfulness, drama, empathy and comedy to the viewer, drawing them in to the images and making them ask questions.
The “faint” or collapsed body has been used throughout Art History. Most often, it is women depicted in these “broken” states: men are rarely shown in this manner, and when they are, it is often suggested that their condition is much more serious. Women are four times more likely than men to have Osteoporosis, but all of us are affected by it. (See, for example, Smith, 2016) In using Schrag as a male figure in the work, it reminds us of our inter-connections to this disease. Most often than not, within 18th Century paintings in which someone has collapsed/fainted, they are depicted in domestic environments. Similarly, many of the falls/breaks that occur to people with Osteoporosis who are at a high risk of fracture happen in their homes, or doing simple tasks such as putting on shoes or taking off a coat. The images Finbow and Schrag have developed similarly occur in a domestic sphere and aim to give an empathetic reminder of the difficulty of the condition and the complexities of its occurrence.