One of the first people in the UK known to have died from the AIDS virus

HIV Terry Higgins Trust poster

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 was only identified the previous year.  The lovely people at Terrence Higgins Trust, Gray’s Inn Road, London let me take a photograph of my HIV virus against their well known sign.

Terrence Higgins 3.jpg


Volunteer worker at the Terrence Higgins Trust reception desk with my ceramic virus next to the THT collection box.


The Trust aims to end the transmission of HIV in the UK; to support and empower people living with HIV; to eradicate stigma and discrimination around HIV; and to promote good sexual health.  Terrence Higgins Trust is generally considered the UK’s leading HIV and AIDS charity,  and the largest in Europe. It is also the lead organisation for Public Health England’s HIV prevention partnership HIV Prevention England.

Posted in HIV

Memorialising HIV in the 1980’s and my own memorial sculpture

In the mid 1980’s, there was intense media focus on this new disease with no known cure. People were afraid that you could ‘catch AIDS’ from Communion wine. Afraid that you could catch HIV from sharing communal baths. At this time, an estimated 7,500 people had been diagnosed with HIV in Britain.


This is the picture that is widely considered to have changed the face of AIDS. It showed AIDS victims as humans and people with families. The biggest opponents of doing anything about AIDS, anything at all, were those trumpeting family values. This picture showed that HIV has everything to do with family values.

My own sculptural response to HIV and AIDS is a bunch of ceramic HIV virus flowers, deadly but strangely beautiful and spewing from a male pee pot.   The male receptacle is used as a symbol to indicate that in the early stages of the history of the disease more men than women had HIV and our abiding image of HIV campaigners in the 1980’s is of articulate, media savvy gay men, but these days, because of complex reasons there are equal numbers of women and men who have the disease.


Posted in HIV

“Shut down our clinics and we’ll shut down your church”

One of the first steps in making the private grief public is the ritual of memorials. I have loved the way memorials take the absence of a human being and make them somehow physical with the use of sound. I have attended a number of memorials in the last five years and at the last one I attended I found myself suddenly experiencing something akin to rage.


David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night

Posted in HIV

The HIV and AIDS virus


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection.

My own ceramic representation of HIV shows the virus protruding from a pee pot.  The single virus below shows its perfect, geometric structure.

HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus…/syc-20373524

Posted in HIV

Influenza and the Skem Egg Lady

Influenza continues to kill more people than dreaded diseases like Ebola. According to the World Health Organisation worldwide the flu causes around 250 000 to 500 000 deaths annually. Below is shown my take on Influenza in the domestic setting.  An old kitchen scales balances Influenza against a hen egg – the marvel of vaccine production.


The role of eggs in flu vaccine production is essential and eggs have been used to manufacture influenza vaccines for over 70 years. The Influenza virus (as shown above) is injected into the egg and once inside tells the genetic material to generate new viruses. The Evans company outside Liverpool have a huge role to play in this.


But closer to home for me is this is image of the Egg Lady in Skelmersdale Market who told me all about the important role that eggs play in protecting us all against influenza.


Ceramic TB and an interesting visit to Belfast

I visited Belfast last year having nervously smuggled my original little ceramic TB through airport customs. The day I got to the old TB Institute by the infamous Falls Road in  Belfast it was so windy it was hard to make the ceramic piece stand up long enough to take a picture. But here it is anyway.  I was also watched by two van loads of workmen watching in silence as I did so, maybe wondering what I was up to.

Ireland plays an interesting part in the story of TB. In Ireland the TB death rate was still increasing in 1900, thirty years after it had begun to decline in England and remained higher until the 1950’s. TB sufferers and their families often felt stigmatised and many people chose to keep quiet about their disease. In time the silence became a habit. To help combat the disease the Institute was opened in 1918…….in later years it became the main blood donation centre for Belfast and closed when donors became unwilling to come to an area perceived as being badly affected by the bombing campaign.

Below is an image of a larger ceramic TB virus photo shopped on to the Belfast pic.

TB ceramic in Belfast


the devastating effects of TB and my own ceramic interpretation of a single virus.



Unorthodox heroine under the floor boards

Under the floorboards of the smart meeting room of the very grand Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, London is presumed to be the burial place of the woman who helped change medical history in ways even she could not have imagined.  In this image of the chapel stands my own metal jug of Cholera flowers.


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu defied convention by introducing Smallpox inoculation into Western medicine. While visiting Turkey, she saw woman place Smallpox scabs into small wounds which were then carefully bandaged as an effective means of inoculating against Smallpox.  Keen to spare her children the suffering of this frightening disease, she had her son Edward inoculated.


On her return to London, she promoted the procedure, despite resistance from the medical establishment and the church.  Buried in a locked crypt under Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, London, wrongly more famous for being the setting of the film Love Actually rather than the resting place of this enterprising woman.  Here is an image of my larger Cholera work.