ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, 2018
“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.
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.
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.
"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
Measurement: 260cm x 50cm x 12cm (flexible)
Process: Hand stitch
Materials: Textile, silk threads, vintage & modern dolls house beds, wadding
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)
East Midlands Mental Health Service Innovators Conference 2019, First Steps, University of Derby (A sample collection of beds) (September 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)