Time to meet your maker

I decided to catch up with Anne Guest, the visual artist that designed and created me to find out more about my design and her work.

Anne and I.

Me: Hi Anne. It’s great to see you. I’d like to start by asking: why did you make me all boney? 

Anne: I wanted to link the bear to something in Birmingham and the first X-ray taken for clinical use in UK was taken in Birmingham by John Hall Edwards in 1896 at the General Hospital.

I might be a bit boney, but I’m a bit of a heffer too. Did my size cause any problems when you were painting me in your home?

I didn’t have to manoeuvre you much, you were central in the room so I could move around you, and used a step ladder to work on the top. You were delivered by Wild in Art in a van and were here for a couple of months. You were too wide to fit through door into my studio so had to work on you in my conservatory as it has double doors that you could get through.

Oh. Sorry about that! *ahem* … I hear that you once designed an owl as part of the Big Hoot in 2015. Why do you like to get involved in projects like this?

These projects show that art is for everyone: displayed outside of the gallery and accessible to everyone and used to raise money for good cause.

Your owl also had an X-ray theme. Why’s that?

I have a background in medicine / healthcare as I was a radiographer. I moved to Birmingham to work at the MRI unit at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital which at the time was the only NHS MRI scanner in the West Midlands. I subsequently went on to run the service. I also worked in the MRI scanner at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I previously lived in London and the south east.

So you’ve created a bear and an owl… anything else?

Yes – I collaborated on a piece of work about the Selly Oak Hospital with another artist and that now hangs in the main foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I am starting a project with a surgeon and a patient group at the hospital next month. I have some work in an exhibition at St Pancras Hospital in London next month. I was also involved in an exhibition there last year. I was also shortlisted on two occasions (2014/2015) for the Shoosmiths Art Prize which was exhibited in Milton Keynes Hospital where they run a large and varied art programme.

And finally… in no more than 141 words… how would you sum yourself up as an artist?

My practice is an exploration of natural sciences through a multi disciplinary practice that includes drawing, photography, video, found objects and installation. Concepts stem from many aspects of natural science including current medical research and natural history.

I combine these with the symbolism associated with vanitas and memento mori that includes skulls, butterflies, flowers and shadows to reference the transience of life and the fragility of human existence.

I like to emulate the sense of awe and wonder associated with the cabinets of curiosities or wunderkammer that were first established in the seventeenth century in an attempt to categorise and tell stories about the wonders of the natural world, offering a strange link between ancient myth and scientific reality. I respond to the current relationship with the natural world which man seems determined to destroy whilst simultaneously recreating, cloning and deextincting.

Bang on!