Research: Artists inspired by medicines – Susie Freeman and Pharmacopoeia

The first artist, Susie Freeman, who is inspired by medicines was recommended to me by my tutor in my feedback from assignment four.

According to her artist statement on the Rowley Gallery website, Susie Freeman’s work involves “trapping tiny objects in a delicate web of filament.” Whilst much of her work investigates what we would normally throw away, she collaborates with a family doctor Liz Lee and also David Critchley on a project called Pharmacopoeia which focus on medical issues. In their artwork WOW1 – What Was Once Imagined, “the 52 arrows around the edge … constitute the weekly intake for [a patient with cardiovascular disease]”. I am fascinated by the use of the coloured pill strips as they are reminiscent of mosaic tiles or blocks in quilting. As an NHS patient, you don’t have access to a year’s worth of your medication however I hadn’t thought of “playing” with my medications before taking them or with the empty strips after.

The artist Susie Freeman standing in the middle of a large circular piece with pills in the shapes of plants and flowers
Image Credit:  Joana França (2015) http://www.pharmacopoeia-art.net/artworks/what-once-was-imagined/

In their work Femme Vitale, they have created a sculptural figure representing someone with Metabolic Syndrome. Here the tablets have been inserted into knitted pockets to form separate cloths which have then been combined to form a dress-like structure.

Femme Vitale Medical Museon
Image Credit:  Pharmacopoeia (2015) http://www.pharmacopoeia-art.net/artworks/femme-vitale/

Their work Daily Dose, is another that uses the medicines to form art that is wearable. As I have taken a beginner’s course in silver jewellery making this year, I have been wondering whether there was a way to weave this into my textile work.

A necklace of pills
Image Credit:  Pharmacopoeia (2011) http://www.pharmacopoeia-art.net/artworks/daily-dose/

Raw Materials uses the leaves, roots and flowers that form the basis of many medicines.

One of their works, Cradle to Grave, has its own website (which can be found here) and was created for The British Museum Wellcome Gallery.

On Susie Freeman’s own website (which can be found here) there are further examples of her work. I have found her work as part of the project Resistance is Rising to be of particular interest as she has used laboratory reports from blood tests amongst other notes in her work. She has also incorporated notes into textiles which are subsequently used to make garments as below:

Image Credit:  Susie Freeman http://www.susiefreeman.com/pills-for-life-1 [Accessed on 4/7/2019]

[All links accessed on 4/7/2019]

5 thoughts on “Research: Artists inspired by medicines – Susie Freeman and Pharmacopoeia

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