In 2016, I was a very lucky artist. I got to spend six weeks with the East London branch of Headway, a charity that helps brain injury survivors to rehabilitate. The East London branch do this by providing an art studio called ‘Submit to Love’ where those who have sustained a brain injury can develop an art practice.
‘Like an Orange’ is about the people I met at the studio. It’s a collection of stories that came about as I got to know them, chatting over paper and Tosca pens. Some are about life with brain injury and some aren’t. What really makes this project special is that I will be incorporating their artwork into the comic too, making this an unusually collaborative, as well as literally inspired, piece.
My experiences with the people I met at the studio had a profound effect on me. Namely, it led me to reflect on the dynamic between memory and identity, and how we are each individual units while at the same time undoubtedly connected to each other in myriad ways – rather like the wiring of the brain itself. As such, it feels natural to me (especially as I am an autobiographical comics artist), to relate the stories of the people I met there with reflections of my own past. This at once acknowledges the fact that stories can only be told through one’s own point of view, while at the same time exploring how we are all connected.
The title of the book, Like an Orange, comes from conversations a couple of the artists had with their surgeons, who described the brain in those terms – like an orange. This resonated with me on a serendipitous level, as I remembered the first painting I ever did, as a very little girl, where I was determined that the whole thing should be entirely orange!
Overall, I want the book to capture the individual stories, my experience of meeting everyone there, the positivity of the studio, and how we connect through words, language, experience, art and creativity.
Peeled or cut? As marmalade? With a vodka?
Two weeks in and I'm thrilled with the support I've received so far. Everytime a pledge comes in I do a little skip in my seat, and feel a mixture of humbled and excited!
If you'd like to add to my humility and excitement by making a pledge, that would be wonderful! Not only will the final book be coming your way in either…
These people are helping to fund Like an Orange.