Not to be afraid of our own mortality


           Kobayashi Kiyochika, “Persimmons and White-Eyes” (1880)

               superimposed with photograph by Eleanor Beth Haswell,

‘Why are you so afraid of your own anatomy?’ (2014)

These ripe persimmons have not been punctured by birds. The bird may be joyously singing, not poised to peck. This woodblock print of Kobayashi Kiyochika, (1880) has been superimposed with a more recently made image (2014). The image is part of an art project for school by 18 year old Eleanor Beth Haswell who printed the article of clothing and took the photograph herself. The floral background of the wallpaper merges with the similar colours in the woodcut print, making it fit in seamlessly as a collage.

More than one woman has thought or said to another, ‘All he wants to do is to get into your nickers.’ This is what he would see if he could get under the skin.

The diagram of the reproductive system is anatomically correct, however, the birds and the persimmons do not seem to be in proportion. The birds are tiny compared to the persimmons, creating the impression of ripeness, fertility, fruitfulness. The woodcut is called ‘ Persimmons and White Eyes’. The artist has named her project, ‘Why are you so afraid of your own anatomy?’ Art brings what is hidden into the open. It invites exploration of the familiar and safe.

This collage is permeated with fertility but what if we consider ‘What would happen next?’ One bird might direct its beak at the flesh of the young woman’s thigh, while the other bird snips at a fallopian tube showing off its fine motor coordination. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is menace and suspense.

The beauty of nature harbours a sense of the dramatic — in time all living things die. This awareness opens us to possibilities of beauty before us, the shape of an ageing hand, our own hands, the beauty that nature has bestowed. I could call this collage,’Not to be afraid of our own mortality.’

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