Slipping through the net

Inspired by our lacklustre approach to the Coronavirus epidemic this work is called Slipping through the net. The many viruses are portrayed as coloured balls clustered around the base of the basket ball net and are accompanied by the Coronavirus poking its tongue out at us. But we will get the better of it…..

Coronavirus 2020

 Washington Newsday and our very own Liverpool Echo included articles about my sculpture which formed part of the Nature vs Humans exhibition at the Victoria Gallery in Liverpool in 2020.  Coronavirus 2020 is my interpretation of this shocking epidemic and, in response to popular demand, has joined their Permanent Collection of Artworks.

Quarantine Boxes


  1. Strict isolation imposed to prevent spread of disease
  2. Detention or isolation enforced
  3. Place, especially a hospital, where people are detained
  4. Period of 40 days.

Cholera photo story
John Snow’s Memorial, York

I went all the way to London to see the famous John Snow water pump in Soho to find that it had disappeared under a pile of new office buildings. I had worked in Broadwick Street many years ago and had walked past the John Snow pump most days not paying any attention. Now that I wanted to see it it had gone.

So, where had it gone to? I knew that Snow came from York and by a strange coincidence my daughter was living close to his original home. Getting ready to go back home one morning I asked her to Google his original address. ‘By the river. Visit it on your way to the station’ was her reply. So here is my photograph of my virus by the John Snow memorial by the York riverside – on the way to the station.

Cholera emerge from Typhoon by Joseph Conrad. In this book crew members die from Cholera

Smallpox photo story

The Smallpox photo was intended to celebrate the life of a pioneer of innoculation that is far less well known than Jenner, although her work significantly pre-dates his. This is the story of Lady Mary Wortley and the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair, London where I turned up during a heatwave. This imposing place has many famous parishioners including:

John WilkesLady Mary Wortley MontaguGarret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington, and his wife (parents to the Duke of Wellington), Florence Nightingale, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bishop Charles Gore. To name but a few.
Smallpox in the Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair

The staff had been helpful in allowing me to photograph my ceramics here, but were oddly cool on the morning I turned up, although we were experiencing a heatwave. I asked if I could take an image of my ceramic virus by Lady Mary’s Tomb, but were told in no uncertain terms that she was under the new Training Room. So, no photograph was possible. Instead, I took this admirably dull pic of the jug of ceramic Smallpox in the main body of the chapel.

Smallpox bouquet

HIV photo story

I booked a meeting with the efficient PR Manager at the Terrence Higgins Trust in King’s Cross London. I turned up with my ceramic HIV and camera and was shown to the meeting room where I took my official Terrence Higgins pic. The famous charity was originally called the Terry Higgins Trust after one of the first people in the UK known to have died from the AIDS virus, which had only been identified the previous year.  But this wasn’t really what I wanted.

‘Most of the people I ever knew are now dead, so you can take my photograph. Let’s do this for the cause.’

I had earlier been talking to the volunteer receptionist and as walked through the Reception area to leave the building I saw him again. This was the photo I wanted. I asked him first and he considered this very thoughtfully.
Working for the cause


Black Death photo story

Eyam Plague Village in Derbyshire is where I started my Memorialising Disease adventure. I started off at the pretty Parish Church once home to the famous Rector Mompesson who created a quarantine system to stop the villagers from infecting the wider community.
Black Death sits on the Hancock family grave

I had heard that there was an even more interesting place to visit outside the village. On a quiet hillside there is a tiny family cemetery where all the members of one family are buried. The mother, Mrs Hancock, buried all her family here, all her young children and her husband, and moved away untouched by the disease to start a new life in another village. Her strength cannot be underestimated and she is the real hero of the Black Death epidemic in Eyam.

Black Death bouquet

Influenza photo story

I turned up to the site of the old Medical Research Council in North London ceramic virus and camera in hand. I’d been looking this place up on Google and found much to my interest that it had been used as a backdrop to the film Batman Returns.
Influenza sculpture as the NIMR is demolished

I jumped off the bus expecting to see this but instead was a partly demolished building. Undeterred I walked through the security gates. I was soon stopped by a site foreman in a yellow jacket.

‘What do you think you’re doing’?

‘It’s a long story’. I showed him my ceramic virus, but he didn’t look convinced and sent me to the Site Manager’s Office in a rickety looking outbuilding. I walked into a room of surveyors, and the site manager, all waiting for the demolition of the old MRC building to commence so they could start building new homes for North London. What do you think you’re doing’?

Once more I told the story about my memorialising disease project and showed him the virus to a sea of largely blank faces, then one young man piped up and said ‘I had influenza once. It was the most horrible thing I have been through.’ And with those words I was allowed to take my photograph.


Tuberculosis photo story

Outside the TB Institute, Falls Road, Belfast

Taking a ceramic Tuberculosis virus through Belfast airport security was an oddly tense experience. I felt sure that I would be taken aside and strip searched, but ceramic doesn’t show up on a scanner so I got through. 

The morning that I planned to take a photograph of my TB virus outside the old Belfast TB Institute on the infamous Falls Road, once a centre of fighting during the Troubles, it was cold, wet and windy. This was the first time I had taken a photograph during this project, so I was feeling a bit cautious anyway.

Placing my little virus in front of the TB Institute I noticed a van load of workmen looking at me with curiousity. Paying little attention to them I started taking my photographs. This took ages because it kept falling over in the wind. Then I noticed another van load of workmen turning up to look at me. Was my ceramic virus that interesting, or was I just looking too odd for the once fractious Falls Road? After all this effort, the virus almost disappeared from view in the photograph, and I photoshopped this version instead.

Tuberculosis blooms