Artist Shona Illingworth, Fine Art Reader and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Music and Fine Art, currently has work in the exhibition States of Mind: Tracing the Edges of Consciousness at the Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, London. Running until October 16th, the exhibition features a series of installations that include Shona Illingworth’s Time Present, which considers the impact of amnesia and the erasure of individual and cultural memory.
Recently shortlisted for the prestigious 2016 Jarman Award, the widely exhibited Illingworth works across sound, film, video, photography, drawing and painting. Major works using moving image and/or sound, take the form of gallery based and site specific installation. Her work combines interdisciplinary research (particularly with emerging neuropsychological models of memory and critical approaches to memory studies) with publicly engaged practice.
Illingworth recently chaired and presented a seminar with Jill Bennett at ICOM (International Conference on Memory) in Budapest. Perspectives on Amnesia was an interdisciplinary investigation of memory loss, combining perspectives from arts and cognitive neuropsychology and the value of creative approaches in understanding the day-to-day experience of memory loss.
Notes on TIME PRESENT, Shona Illingworth, 2016
Claire was 44 years old when she awoke from a coma to find that she could no longer remember much of her past, form new memories or recognise faces (not even her own). She returned to a house she could not remember as home, where she no longer knew what anything was for or how to use the objects that surrounded her. She could not recognise her children, her husband or close friends and family. Claire describes the past as “a space you can’t enter or feel – the future a space you can’t imagine”.
Time Present explores the very different shape of Claire’s world, and the maps and lists that Claire creates in order to structure her thinking and to ground her in time and space.
This new work developed on from Illingworth’s project Lesions in the Landscape, builds on over four years of working with Claire, alongside cognitive psychologist Martin Conway and neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday. This collaboration has led to some unique phenomenological and neurobiological insights into amnesia. Illingworth explores Claire’s personal experience of amnesia alongside the cultural amnesia surrounding the depopulated Scottish island of St Kilda, located 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides in the North Atlantic. The last communities of St Kilda were evacuated at their own request in August 1930, ending 4000 years of habitation. A powerful analogy for the neurological experience of amnesia, this sudden interruption in human occupation of the island embodies the sense of lost connection with the past. St Kilda embodies a sense of isolation. The wild weather fronts that make access difficult ultimately precipitated the decision to depopulate. Similarly Claire lives with the perpetual isolation that comes with the loss of memory. Intelligent, warm and social, she works constantly to blend into situations that most of us take for granted, rarely able to draw on the comfort of knowing where she is, how she fits in, who and where her friends are.
The two screen installation explores the dynamic role memory plays in enabling us to move through time and space. It reveals the daily feat of creativity, determination and commitment that Claire undertakes against the odds, in order to give meaning and shape to her world and to maintain connections to her past, her future, her identity and to those that are important in her life.
For more information go to: https://wellcomecollection.org/visit-us/states-mind-installations
Related post: https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/research/news.html?view=2150