Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Embroidered Minds - William Morris and Neurology

updated link to Embroidered Minds website

VERY SADLY, Leslie Forbes, prime mover in this project, died early July 2016 following a major epileptic seizure.  At this date  the Embroidered Minds project consisted of one site-specific exhibition and the publication of Part One of the one part of the accompanying novel.  Plans are being made to continue and complete the project as Leslie intended.

It's difficult to summarise the Embroidered Minds project except to quote the authors in saying it's a collaboration of artists, writers, medics and scholars, weaving a part-factual, part-imagined fantasy around and across the connections between Jenny Morris and her family, and Victorian neurologist William Gowers.  The connecting thread is the neurological condition of epilepsy, which Jenny suffered and Gowers investigated and treated. 

Jenny  is the least-written about of the now-famous Morris family, who lived with the always famous Morris firm in Queen Square, where the site is now occupied by the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

In its initial installation at 23 Queen Square, Embroidered Minds is an installation created by artists Julia Dwyer, Caroline Isgar, Sue Ridge and Andrew Thomas, with texts by novelist Leslie Forbes and medical input from Renata Whurr and Marjorie Lorch.   On this occasion, it is site-specific, but the elements are flexible and portable to any number of other locations just as its contents are open to interpretations and responses.  In another form, it will be a four-part novel linked to the displays

The aim is to investigate the relevance today of a 'conspiracy of silence' that surrounded Jenny Morris's condition and still partly shrouds pubic understanding.  Though it should not be separated from the ideas, the artworks are beautiful in their own right also and the whole assemblage is absorbing.

ON 23 January 2016  @ 2.15 pm  Leslie Forbes, Sue Ridge and myself  are elaborating - not to say embroidering - on the subject   in a presentation entitled 'Sex, Drugs and Epilepsy in the Morris Family'  at the William Morris Society,  26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith.

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