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Unashamedly Positive….A F****** Kettle!!!

June 10, 2011

Back in 2006 while I was starting my first year of my Fine Art Degree, I was given the Project Brief: AUTOBIOGRAPHY.  This was it, this was the time to disclose my status, this was the time to tell colleagues/friends that I had been on the Foundation course for the previous year about me…it was an either Break It or Make it situation…this was when I would find out who my real friends were and who to maybe avoid????

I sat with my rather oversized sketchbook opened out in front of me and where to begin… I entered the letters ME rather largely with a big black marker pen right dead in the centre and put a circle around them.  I sat for quite a long time and felt uneasy as other students were walking around for inspiration but knew that this was a really crucial moment that I had to go through as if I didn’t I would always be looking over my shoulder, scared about being found out. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. I wanted some sort of control over how I dealt with this whole issue and all on my own terms!!!

The following day I had a Tutorial and had to discuss my project, I was so nervous and also not feeling 100% as was going to a positive friend’s funeral a little later in the day…but really felt my friend was with me in spirit as I started to disclose to my Tutor. I had written the words “F****** KETTLE…A F******  KETTLE!!!!” Once again, in Large Bold Black Lettering!!!

This refers to the time I was back home after being released from the hospital after being diagnosed Positive and in a very poor physical and mental state!  The Head HIV Clinical nurse visited me. She had no people skills what-so- ever and basically said that “We can help people like you with things, for example… A Kettle.”

‘A Kettle…A F******Kettle!’ These words were going around in my head. I had nearly died and didn’t know what would happen next as I was totally dependent on my mother’s help and this silly woman had come in and said they can get me a kettle…I wanted to shout out “Go in my kitchen …I have a kettle and a toaster and a microwave you insensitive b****!!!!”

This moment had stayed with me and had mentioned it to many people and this is where ONE OF MY MOST WELL KNOWN ARTWORKS WAS BORN. I decided that if they were going to get me a kettle that I would want one made out of Jewels and precious metal.  As this was totally unacceptable, I made one myself.  I covered a really cheap kettle in an array of brightly coloured shining fake jewels and made HIV meds and wrote days of the week on each and placed these in a teacup beside the kettle on a tray and made a few tiny Skulls placed in amongst them.

It took a long patient time and many burns from the glue gun but looked so glamorous and has been Exhibited many times…and this so called nurse that inspired it has seen it and even though I wrote with the piece a small message saying… “Inspired by a stupid, cruel, hurtful remark made by someone who quite frankly should have known better!!!”   I don’t think she ever batted an eye!!!

That remark even though it was hurtful at the time has made me feel very empowered about raising awareness and hopefully changing the way Medical Practitioners speak to Positive patients…..Onwards and Upwards.

Art is Life…Life is Art

Mandywebb43.com

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2011 8:27 am

    It amazes me how ignorant and stupid people can still be 30 years after the discovery of HIV. Thank you for a fresh outlook and how you felt when treated so horribly. I cannot imagine what that must have felt like. The semblance of that kettle is amazing. I praise you for educating the world one person at a time.

  2. June 14, 2011 9:07 am

    Thankyou……You just have to take a deep breath and rise above it…if that fails you make an Artwork about it lol…..I will continue to raise awareness this way as alot of people still need educating about HIV and what it entails? Take care xx

  3. July 1, 2011 3:43 am

    Love your kettle. Her insensitive remark ended up being like the grain of sand in an oyster’s shell that becomes a pearl. Take care. Art is Life. 🙂

    • July 1, 2011 4:35 am

      Thankyou Angie…Its hard not to get upset by peoples sometimes stupid hurtful remarks but the best way to deal with it in my book is to learn from it,Create from it so you turn it back on them…and pity their ignorance 🙂

  4. Lin permalink
    February 15, 2012 8:03 pm

    I applaud you for your honesty and openness. Your art work is inspirational.

    I too have been angered by some very stupid remarks made by ‘professionals’:

    When reeling from the initial diagnosis a picture was instantly painted of destitution, disability and frequent incarceration in high dependency unit. They seemed to think they were being helpful and supportive. Very positive! They did not respond very well to my observations.

    I’ve yet to do something positive with my situation as I’m still coming to terms with it. But thank you and all the other women on this site for being such good role models!

  5. February 16, 2012 5:21 am

    Hello Lin
    I’m sorry that you too have had to endure the Ignorance and hurtful treatment by people who are in a position and educated to know better?
    It took me a little while to get my head around being HIV Positive and all that it entailed, but as an Artist , I decided the only way to take control of this situation that I was in was to create pieces of Artwork that were inspired by these sometimes negative comments/situations but I also wanted to add a little Humour and Beauty to each of them.
    Its also very empowering as I feel in control of the way I present myself as a Proud HIV positive woman.
    HIV does’nt define me…But it sure has made a huge impact on me!!!
    Im sure that you too will find your way in time and become another Positive Role Model for others….
    Kindest Regards
    Mandy

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