These works began with the gift of a small vial of blood. It was donated by a dear friend with terminal cancer, with the wish that I use it in my work. Sadly just before I made the piece my friend died.
To reflect the preciousness of the gift, I have made labour-intensive, crafted pieces that employ the skills of both a master wood turner and a master gilder. The resulting images are a kind of reliquary, or a mandala, the wheel of a life. At first, the repeating gold fretwork evokes fine lace, until you see that the patterns are intricately built from syringes and pills, the invasive reality of the dying. At the centre of each is a carefully positioned inkblot of that irreplaceable blood.
A celebration of one particular life, and the marking of an untimely death, the work nevertheless moves us to reflect upon our own mortality and how we might hope to be remembered. It instills in us the possibility that in a secular age, art can still offer transcendence. It speaks at once of our aliveness and our fragility.
Blood unites and divides us. We can be blooded into adulthood – by menses or ritual – or cut down in bloodshed. The gift of blood can save lives, or it can transmit disease. Even in death, blood retains something vital, as it does here.