ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, 2018

installation

“Caren Garfen often makes room-sized installations, but here the diminutive nature of the work conveys a feeling of helplessness. The beds create an endless hospital ward, each one as different as every individual who is struggling with the condition.” Crafts, Jan/Feb 2019

‘Room for Improvement’ was inspired by a 2017 Ch4 documentary ‘Wasting Away’, in which journalist and television presenter Mark Austin states that “there are just 202 NHS beds in the whole of the UK for children and young people with eating disorders.” He adds that the number of sufferers in the UK is thought to be 1.2 million.

This artwork consists of 202 dollshouse beds together with bedding which has been hand-stitched with researched text and motifs. The text has come from various sources, including personal accounts from people suffering from eating disorders, and from anonymous tweets on social media.

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In-situ at National Centre of Craft & Design  Above photos by Electric Egg, courtesy of NCCD

In-situ at National Centre of Craft & Design

Above photos by Electric Egg, courtesy of NCCD


In-situ at MAC Birmingham as part of Ctrl/Shift, a project by The 62 Group of Textile Artists. The exhibition concept was developed in partnership with the 62 Group and independent curator Liz Cooper.

In-situ at MAC Birmingham as part of Ctrl/Shift, a project by The 62 Group of Textile Artists. The exhibition concept was developed in partnership with the 62 Group and independent curator Liz Cooper.

Bed 41 of 202  ‘Threaded’, Envision Arts Show, International Online Gallery (1 - 31 May 2019)

Bed 41 of 202

‘Threaded’, Envision Arts Show, International Online Gallery (1 - 31 May 2019)

The use of dollshouse beds conjures up a feeling of childhood innocence, and is a stark reminder that although disorders usually appear during adolescence, a worrying number of cases are also being seen in children as young as seven or eight.

Beds 32 & 104 of 202

Beds 32 & 104 of 202

The beds and text are of different sizes to emphasise scale, and to allude to sufferers often having a distorted view of their body size.

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"In this exhibition [Ctrl/Space] no one devoted more to the master-craftsmanship with needle and thread than Caren Garfen. Her ‘Room for Improvement' project could be marveled at for its truly awe inspiring achievement with embroidery." Diana Springall, Aug 2018

Bed 78 of 202

Bed 78 of 202

Bed 159 of 202

Bed 159 of 202

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Bed 87 of 202

Bed 87 of 202

Boys get eating disorders too...   Beds 184, 189 & 202 of 202

Boys get eating disorders too...

Beds 184, 189 & 202 of 202

Beds 11, 39, 84, 114, 130, 164 & 182 of 202

Beds 11, 39, 84, 114, 130, 164 & 182 of 202

Beds 22, 67, 180 & of 202

Beds 22, 67, 180 & of 202


Measurement: 260cm x 50cm x 12cm (flexible)


Exhibited in:

Ctrl/Shift, 62 Group, MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham (2018)

Ctrl/Shift, 62 Group, The National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire (Feb - Apr 2019)

‘Image and Narrative: Illness, Recovery, Change’ at The University of Nottingham (a sample collection of beds) (April 2019)

To be exhibited in:

Ctrl/Shift, 62 Group of Textile Artists, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire (14 Dec 2019 to 29 Feb 2020)