Film by Joanne Humphreys BA PGCE
An immersive experience of invisible layers challenging the environment of extinction against the concept of evolution.
Lockdown Museum is a body of work representing the layering of what isn’t visible to the eye of the observer when looking at “non-living” objects in museum specimens. Depicting how taxidermy can give a specimen a renewed life in terms of what lies beneath the surface. Layers of transparent, translucent, and opaque materials used to entice the observer into the world of life in non-life.
Using mixed mediums of voile fabric, variation of lighting and x-ray imaging of bird taxidermy to envisage the symbolism of what lies beyond and beneath the process of life and death.
Due to the unprecedented situation with the coronavirus pandemic, this film is a virtual response to being in lockdown in conjunction with museum specimens in a domestic setting.
Film ‘The Process’
The film is based on a documentation of a cathartic experience involving many aspects of the grieving process based on my own personal experience of my son dying of cancer. Aspects of costume making and the macabre with the costumes based on a guinea pig skin turned inside out connects with the experimental treatment offered to my son at the time of his illness when he was just two years old but also resonates with the rawness of grieving. The Guinea pig skin was something I saw a few years ago when a Guinea Pig had been prepared ready to be preserved by a taxidermist. The intense blue was intriguing but also a monstrous unrecognisable, ‘less than cute’ form remained.
Objects were burned in a ritualistic sense, were images of MRI scans, x-ray images and photos of the cancer cells. The bird feathers were included as part of a memory I had of my son waking up one morning covered in white feathers from his pillow. At the time, I told him that it ‘looked like he had begun to grow his angel feathers’.
The tearing off of the guineapig face indicates an ending to pain and suffering.
The music in the background of the film, (Music piece by Gustav Mahler based on Friedrick Ruckets Kindertotenlieder, ‘Songs of the death of children’ poem, composed as an expression of grief, creating a description of the grieving process through the loss of a child.
‘Now I see well with such dark flames
In many glances you flash upon me’
The cathartic process of burning objects resonates with memories of the cancer treatment my son went through, such as the MRI scans of his skull and x-ray images. The process of burning the images means that its destroying something tangible that destroyed my son.
The "Dis" Film
The Dis film was created in collaboration with the filmmaker Lee Matthews. It evolved through research into the disability Down Syndrome. Joanne’s son Alex has Down Syndrome. He was eight years old when this film was made. The narrative sound in the background is Joanne’s own words that she wrote as an epic poem based on the word ‘disability’. How human misconceptions can impact on prejudices towards people with disabilities, especially Down Syndrome.
With a play on words, ‘Dis’ & ‘Ability’ she relates her poem to extracts of her poetry used inside the linear portraits created for the exhibition in Cardiff in 2015. You can see a glimpse of her woodcut prints and her portraits of children with Down Syndrome in the film, including her son and his father. Her presence is shown in a clip where its filmed inside the sensory room in his school. Her aim was to raise awareness of the positives of the condition to coincide with International Down Syndrome Awareness Week. It was first presented in public at the 2015 Art & Science exhibition at The Atrium Gallery in Cardiff.