From trauma comes beauty, from sharing comes connection, from connection comes understanding. The colours of Sam Cleasby‘s body, extracting the elements to make a mark with artistic intention, chosen colours from photographs of her drains, wounds and tubes.
In her third year Sam became unwell, after having surgery during which her bowel perforated and she developed sepsis. She woke up days later in Intensive Care Unit from a medically induced coma, unable to speak, with a breathing tube and wires, equipment and medication performing every single bodily function. Sam was bed bound, had six drains in her abdomen, an ileostomy, a catheter, a nasogastric tube, breathing tubes, PICC line into her heart, central lines in her neck, arterial lines in her wrists and several other cannulas and tubes. But she was alive.
This life changing experience has affected every part of Sam’s life – including her art practice – physically limiting her ability to get out of bed, let alone to an art studio, and mentally and emotionally limiting her abilities to focus on anything other than survival. But her art was always there. Even in the darkest of times, Sam was using her practice and her creativity to make sense of what was happening to her and giving herself an outlet to explain the unspeakable feelings to those around her. Through photography, audio recordings, note writing, documenting the amazing array of colours that came out of her body. Using art as therapy.
The images of Sam in the Intensive Care Unit are distressing, they are graphic, visceral and upsetting. She questioned how she would be able to use this experience that will shape her life in her art. The vulnerable images have a great amount of power, but they are intensely personal.
The colours taken from the images of Sam’s body became the Samtones project. It’s allowed her to reduce and simplify a traumatic experience in a way that allows conversation to occur without the gore of the visceral.
From trauma comes beauty, from sharing comes connection, from connection comes understanding.