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Blog - Letty McHugh

100 Origami Boats and Other Stories

A woman stands at a podium with an old phorgraph on a screen behind her

Me at the Tate with a Slide Featuring my Great Grandfather.

Wow, It has been such an amazing three weeks since I last blogged for DAO. I went down to London and spoke at the Emerging Artists discussion at the Tate Exchange. (I got a charcuterie plate and ate it looking at St Paul’s, it was super fancy) I had chance to see the Jenny Holzer exhibition at the Tate and the Tracey Emin exhibition at the White Cube. (Tracey, if you’re reading this I’m a fan of the new stuff).

I then travelled back to Yorkshire and speedily folded 30 origami boats to finish off the fleet of 100 for The Art House Wakefield Micro Commissions exhibition on Wednesday (I had a coffee and a cannoli at the café there, it was also surprisingly fancy).

I somehow also squeezed in my second session in the ceramics studio and learning to use a laser cutter (You won’t get away from me now James Bond.) It’s been incredible, to have so many exciting things to do, and I’ll be honest, I was worried how I’d get it all done with my MS fatigue.

On Friday I was feeling healthy and accomplished, walking around thinking “See I can do everything after all”, and it’s weird because that feeling of wellness is so often accompanied by a feeling of guilt. Like I’ve somehow been lying to myself and everyone else this whole time. Like I don’t deserve to be getting this bursary or the amazing opportunities that come with it because I’m not really sick enough, am I? That’s the thing sometimes with invisible illnesses, sometimes they can even feel invisible to the people who live with them. I have this lingering fear sometimes that secretly it’s not my illness that stands in my way, but myself, that I’m lazy (I’m really not) and disorganised (maybe a little bit) and a chronic procrastinator (Okay, this one is true).

Seaworthy Vessel at the Micro Commission Exhibition

These feelings are very relevant to a conversation I had with @kirstymhall on twitter after my first post about the Seaworthy Vessel project. She commented that the notion of seaworthiness applies to an aspect of the disabled experience I hadn’t previously considered for the project – the ways we are constantly having to prove we are worthy of aid or perceived advantages, like access to disabled loos or seats on public transport or whatever. That’s where an invisible illness can be a real Catch 22, I’m sick enough to be disadvantaged but am I sick enough to be worthy of help? This feeling of questioning my own worthiness is definitely something I want to explore more as the project develops.

Anyway, it turns out I didn’t need to worry so much about being an MS fraud because I tried to keep up my whirlwind of activity this week instead of resting and I am a total wreck. (I did pass my driving test though, that’s irrelevant but I’m a braggart.)

My absolute favourite thing about getting to share my work in progress is when people say something that helps me look at the work in a new way. So If you do have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them.

PS. Esmé Weijun Wang explores the fear of being lazy while chronically ill so beautifully and thoroughly here, I’m reluctant to write about it myself. I just want to link to the essay and go ‘what she said’.

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