Snapshot captures unseen illness
Jessica Maiden knows too well the pain of suffering from an ‘invisible’ affliction. Struck with juvenile arthritis at the age of six - but diagnosed 14 years later - the fine art student has dedicated her photographic works to the exploration of the ‘unseen pathologised body’.
"Rheumatoid arthritis is not a visible disease," she explained. "We have such intense pain nearly constantly, but there is no visual sign of it. Often people do not readily believe you. So it is about finding a visual language to express that."
Maiden’s journey began in 2006, when she undertook a directed study project at John Hunter Hospital to photograph sufferers of juvenile arthritis. The project formed part of her final year of a Bachelor of Fine Art degree. "I wanted to bring attention to the fact that arthritis is not just an older person’s disease and to eliminate some of the stigma," she said. Maiden went on to receive first class honours for her work focusing on the notion of sight. This piece, again, drew on her own personal experiences. "My arthritis has left me with sight in only one eye. So I photographed the world as I saw it when my sight was deteriorating; blurred and out of focus."
Her honours work earned her an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship, and she also won the 2007 Newcastle Emerging Artist prize.
Maiden is now completing her Master of Philosophy (Fine Art), examining the photographic representation of women in the grip of hysterical attacks in the 19th Century. The project was inspired by the work of French neurologist Dr Jean-Martin Charcot.
Maiden’s critically acclaimed work has led to a prestigious offer to undertake a PhD in Fine Art at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, which she hopes to commence in September 2010.
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See Jessica's work exhibited at "Our Achievers" Student Photo Exhibition