44AD Exhibition: Embrace DNR

On the Tuesday 9th February, I visited the small gallery in Bath town centre, 44AD. I had visited here before and loved the exhibition they’d put on last year around May, titled, ‘The Car Boot Museum’, a collaboration of artists and writers collecting stories, poems, photographs and objects, travelling around the county of Somerset. I fell in love with this idea and the concept of memory and its strong link to the landscape. I myself was exploring this idea during our landscape project in first year, juxtaposing old family images with present day landscape photos I’d taken.


Similarly, this exhibition, ‘Embace DNR’ was also a collaboration, between photographer Marc de Calle and performance artist, Carolyn Savidge. The work focuses on the relationship between Carolyn and her husband, Michael and his gradual decline and death due to cancer. It is a very moving collection of short writings alongside IPhone shots, by Carolyn during his time in hospital. Between these were a series of with large prints taken by Marc de Calle, a fashion photographer, after Michael’s death, featuring Carolyn wearing her wedding dress, that she married Michael in, only a few years ago, as Carolyn told me when I visited the exhibition. This dress was also displayed as part of the exhibition. Embracing all the senses, an audio clip was played during the exhibition featuring recordings of Michael reflecting on his life, with poetry read out by Carolyn and a series of breathing recordings she had created. The sound file can be found here: http://www.theskyisthinaspaperhere.co.uk/embrace-dnr/


I was really inspired by this work and how the natural landscape next to the hospital location can show a real sense of loss and reflection on life. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Carolyn at the exhibition, she was very friendly and even asked me to send her a link to my blog. I told her that would be fine, the only problem is I hadn’t created it at this point… She was also very interested in the fact that my current project was also exploring the human body within nature and even offered to model for, if I ever needed another model. I was also intrigued by the locations she shot in, for the natural shots. She described it as an areas near Bristol with lots of history and atmosphere. I couldn’t remember the name so I will definitely get in contact with her to ask her more questions.

Something else that occurred to me only after leaving the exhibition, was the title of the work and what it actually meant. I googled DNR and found that it stands for ‘do not resuscitate’, an order given by doctors to not carry out resuscitation when the heart stops beating due to the death of a patient. I think the title, essentially means that Carolyn is, instead of trying to move on straight away, she needs to embrace the fact that her husband is now dead, and for her, artistically and fully embracing that fact, through creation, was what she needed to do, in order to honour her husband and move on and grow from the traumatic experience.

Overall I really enjoyed viewing this work and felt inspired and moved by the mixture of imagery, words and sounds and there was definitely ’embracing my senses’. In terms of my practise, this is very much the type of work I would like to be creating, very fine art based, I have always been interested in the human figure within a larger landscape, and the concepts that can be linked to this.

Images found:

1 – http://www.vasw.org.uk/events/the-car-boot-museum-exhibition.php

2 – http://www.embrace-dnr.com/home/4587231217


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