Artist confronts her condition through work

BEYOND THE BOUNDS: Artist Clare Weeks explores the condition of multiple sclerosis through photography and is currently exhibiting at Gallery 139 in Hamilton.

BEYOND THE BOUNDS: Artist Clare Weeks explores the condition of multiple sclerosis through photography and is currently exhibiting at Gallery 139 in Hamilton.

CLARE Weeks has been practising art for most of her adult life, but she never imagined multiple sclerosis would become the subject of much of her work.

The 40-year-old Newcastle woman was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Yet she considers herself fortunate. 

“I am one of the lucky ones,” Weeks said.

“My MS is relapsing/remitting, so that means I have periods of relapse but big periods of remission, for me.”

Weeks studied art at the University of Newcastle and is currently undertaking a PhD focused on her personal experience with MS. She is a photo-media artist who incorporates video performance into her work, along with “old school photography” and digital photography. 

The diagnosis has changed the way she uses art. 

“It used to be about domestic spaces and film references because I did film theory at uni as well,” Weeks said.

“Now it is a lot more about myself.”

“These days it’s about trying to get the ideas and emotions and the message out there.

“Art is cathartic; it makes me feel good to get it out of me.”

Weeks said the disease effected her physically through her legs.

“I get a pins and needles feeling that is always in my feet, and fatigue,” she said.

“Fatigue is the biggest thing.

“Everyone with MS has a different sensory symptoms.” 

She is currently exhibiting in a group show titled The Bounds of Photography at Gallery 139, in Beaumont Street, Hamilton.

The work portrays, in video,  tests which she undertakes every six months at the MS clinic at the John Hunter Hospital. 

“They make me do these little tests and they test my reflexes, my gait and then I get a score out of 10 which tells how well I am doing,” Weeks said.

“One of them is this heel toe test, another is whether I can touch the tip of my finger with my nose with my eyes closed,” Weeks said.

“And so what I do is I take them to my studio and I re-enact them but I slow them down so you can really see the detail.

“It is taking it out of that hospital environment and bringing it into my own studio, I am taking control of it back and also showing how humorous it is - these little tests when you look at them out of context.

“They are just looking to see if I have had any loss of ability in the last six months. I tend to score pretty high most of the time'”

Other artists also exhibiting in the show are Chris Byrnes, James Murphy, James Rhodes and Catherine Tempest. 

It runs until March 12.