‘Once upon a time, long ago and far away, there were twenty three units of blood’

once upon a time

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, there were twenty-three units of blood
2018, ribbon, canvas and paint. Two panels each 96.4 x 176.5 (h) cm  Photo Alex Gooding

In this work twenty-three squat square crosses are arranged in a grid of six by four, with one missing. The dimensions of the cross and its alignment mimic those of the red cross symbol that identifies the emblem associated with the supply of blood and blood products within Australia.
However, here, the red cross has been decolourised. This is a chemical process used to remove unwanted staining material in the preparation of microscope slides or to remove coloured impurities from water such as dye waste. Decolourising the red cross shifts the focus to the more formal aspects of the symbol without the often-overriding associations of the colour red.
The reflectivity of both the satin weave of the ribbon and the modified sateen weave of the work amplifies the movements of the viewer appearing to alter the colour of the ribbons and thus its relationship with the viewer.
A tension remains, as it is the red colour of blood that signifies its usefulness to the body. The depth and shade of red shows the amount of haemoglobin per litre and/or the percentage of oxygenated haemoglobin in the blood. So, the process of decolourising strips away this signifier of purpose and effectiveness.

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Continuing the 23 Units of Blood series of works.

silver cross 5

A decolourised cross sits within a filing cabinet drawer.  The aluminium gilded cross is layered onto cracked and distorted white paint left to set in the base of the drawer.   This is one of twenty three large individual silver cross work that make up this large installation.

Decolourising is a chemical process used to remove unwanted staining material involved in the preparation of microscope slides or to remove coloured impurities from a material, often a liquid such as water. It is both a process and an end result or materiality. Decolourising the red cross mark shifts the focus to the more formal aspects of the symbol without the often-overriding associations of the colour red. Previously I have used gilding with aluminium foil onto plastic and metal surfaces to achieve the decolourised process.
However, there is a tension as it is the red colour of blood that signifies its usefulness to the body. The depth and shade of red shows the amount of haemoglobin per litre and/or the percentage of oxygenated haemoglobin in the blood. So, the process of decolourising strips away this signifier of purpose and effectiveness.

A larger scale recent work from the whole collection of the twenty three units of blood series. Started 2016 and still in progress.

23 units of blood aluminium crosses onto rust edited

In the run up to the Colour Run project at Braemar Gallery in Springwood NSW. I’m having a look at all of the series of works over the years looking at twenty three units of blood.  This series is decolourised crosses representing each of the units of blood.  They are gilded (badly) aluminium onto rusted steel and other found metal objects.  It is harder than you expect to gild onto a rusted surface.  The size of this work is 80 x 30 x 90(h) cm.

Another in the twenty three units of blood series. This time from 2016

Bleeding Out Book 006.JPG

This work Blood on Silk: Bleeding Out [The Book] comes in two parts. One is a twenty three page book of blood stains meant to be handled and held on the lap of the reader, within the space of the  body. The other element is a card labelled Instructional Manual. One the reverse side is a snakes and ladders type game where twenty three units of blood are used to halt a bleeding out. This work is now in the collection of the library at York University UK.

Revisiting all of the 23 units of blood works

In two weeks an exhibition called Colour Run will open at the Braemar Gallery in Springwood.  The exhibition is curated by Beata Geyer and one of my works  Once upon a time , long ago and far away there were twenty three units of blood has been selected.  In the run up I’ve been thinking of the other times I’ve focused on the narrative of Twenty three units of blood.

This work, was one of the first of these works I made, Memorial/ One shift Nov 30, 2000 was exhibited in St Marks Anglican Church,Aberdeen NSW in 2006 as part of Memorial/Double Pump Laplace I

Memorial Double Pump Laplace reworked 3

Memorial Double Pump Laplace I reworked 2

Memorial Double Pump Laplace I reworked