Unashamedly Positive….A F****** Kettle!!!
Back in 2006 while I was starting my first year of my Fine Art Degree, I was given the Project Brief: AUTOBIOGRAPHY. This was it, this was the time to disclose my status, this was the time to tell colleagues/friends that I had been on the Foundation course for the previous year about me…it was an either Break It or Make it situation…this was when I would find out who my real friends were and who to maybe avoid???? I sat with my rather oversized sketchbook opened out in front of me and where to begin… I entered the letters ME rather largely with a big black marker pen right dead in the centre and put a circle around them. I sat for quite a long time and felt uneasy as other students were walking around for inspiration but knew that this was a really crucial moment that I had to go through as if I didn’t I would always be looking over my shoulder, scared about being found out. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. I wanted some sort of control over how I dealt with this whole issue and all on my own terms!!! The following day I had a Tutorial and had to discuss my project, I was so nervous and also not feeling 100% as was going to a positive friend's funeral a little later in the day…but really felt my friend was with me in spirit as I started to disclose to my Tutor. I had written the words "F****** KETTLE…A F****** KETTLE!!!!" Once again, in Large Bold Black Lettering!!! This refers to the time I was back home after being released from the hospital after being diagnosed Positive and in a very poor physical and mental state! The Head HIV Clinical nurse visited me. She had no people skills what-so- ever and basically said that "We can help people like you with things, for example… A Kettle." ‘A Kettle…A F******Kettle!' These words were going around in my head. I had nearly died and didn’t know what would happen next as I was totally dependent on my mother’s help and this silly woman had come in and said they can get me a kettle…I wanted to shout out “Go in my kitchen …I have a kettle and a toaster and a microwave you insensitive b****!!!!" This moment had stayed with me and had mentioned it to many people and this is where ONE OF MY MOST WELL KNOWN ARTWORKS WAS BORN. I decided that if they were going to get me a kettle that I would want one made out of Jewels and precious metal. As this was totally unacceptable, I made one myself. I covered a really cheap kettle in an array of brightly coloured shining fake jewels and made HIV meds and wrote days of the week on each and placed these in a teacup beside the kettle on a tray and made a few tiny Skulls placed in amongst them. It took a long patient time and many burns from the glue gun but looked so glamorous and has been Exhibited many times…and this so called nurse that inspired it has seen it and even though I wrote with the piece a small message saying… "Inspired by a stupid, cruel, hurtful remark made by someone who quite frankly should have known better!!!” I don’t think she ever batted an eye!!! That remark even though it was hurtful at the time has made me feel very empowered about raising awareness and hopefully changing the way Medical Practitioners speak to Positive patients…..Onwards and Upwards. Art is Life…Life is Art Mandywebb43.com
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