The regeneration of nerve fibres damaged by the polio virus was the creative impetus for this work. Lots of different threads, ribbons, wool and acrylic knitting fibres were sandwiched between layers of water soluble, plastic- like fabric and sewn at high speed on my sewing machine to make a new fabric. Unlike real nerve fibres, the threads must be connected well or they fall apart.
My initial intention was only to cover the exterior of the plaster cast. However, the clearly visible scarring on what could easily be the spinal column and indentations on the interior made me shudder. As a child who’d had polio at two and over half my spine fused as a result of scoliosis at twelve, there were just too many unpleasant memories of my plaster years to allow this to pass unaddressed.
So the problem solving and manual gymnastics began, resulting in the challenge to line the cast with a burr free singlet and to soften the neck, armholes and base with quilt batting, long after everything else had been sewn in place. I hasten to add that this was my very first venture in 3D and in large scale creative fabric making. Click to see progress photos.
So why “Evening Wear”? The premature decline of the regenerated nerve endings, after years of faithful service, is causing anguish to many who have lived full and rewarding lives and who are now experiencing the late effects of polio or post-polio syndrome. In our twilight years, we can but dream of the social lives of yesteryear and find new and creative ways to reach out.
Click to explore another of Wendy’s art works: Repression (not part of the “Touched by Polio” Exhibition).
Please click on the picture below to see more photographs and a video of Wendy’s “Touched by Polio” art work
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