I remember the very moment my new project completed the mind development stage and entered the reality realm. It had me jump up in my aeroplane seat; and I could almost reach out and touch it… I mean her.

Most of you know, I have a love for character. Recently, I had also been influenced by our trip to Italy and all the Pinocchios and beautiful Venetian masks. Add to this the time I’d been desperately waiting for, the time when the pain would subside and allow for a new phase of life to begin, and my project formula was taking shape – finally! Happiness, character and a big story to tell.

  • Happiness. Obviously related to my wellbeing. The huge leap in ability and independence that had finally arrived thanks to a last year of great treatment.
  • Character. A marionette, portrayed as me, Soula, in my favourite Gorman dress, Trippen boots and Fiorina earrings.
  • A big story. Over half a decade of my lifetime searching for a diagnosis, a treatment, suffering the loss of independence… someone else was ‘pulling my strings’ but all the while I looked ‘normal’!

I had tried to paint myself in pain but it was deeply upsetting. It would have also been concrete documentation – forever – and that’s the last thing I wanted to do with this pain. Immortalise it. The pain wasn’t staying. It wasn’t forever, and there was no way I was going to make it mine. My artwork takes me to happy places, but of course I couldn’t ignore these years of my life.

So, it’s over to Ms Soula for pain now. She’s going to be handling the stories of pain, she will be communicating her loss of independence and control of her life, she’ll sit on her leg so her coccyx hovers unpressured, she’ll seem ok, she’ll seem happy and she’ll show everyone that we can’t see pain in life and that often our exterior bears no resemblance to our interior. And I can stop wondering, why no one can see my excruciating pain and move onto my healing process; painting and drawing portraits of Ms, moving forward and towards my great old life as artist and designer.

Ms Soula has been made by Colleen Burke, an artist of many talents and with incredible ability for achieving likeness (quite obviously!). It was such a pleasure to work with Colleen and she realised exactly what I had in mind. Ms Soula’s hands and face are made with apoxie that gets fired in an oven. Her body is of some divine old wood. She has a wig of hair that had to be dyed and trimmed, her eyes are marbles and lightly glazed as are her lips. Her boots are real leather.

And in case anyone is wondering, my medication doses are just fine!

Chronic Pain

(Photography Marija Ivkovic, marionette made by Colleen Burke. Creative director Soula: How do you Communicate Art, Design & Chronic Pain)

Ms Soula Marionette (Photography Marija Ivkovic, marionette made by Colleen Burke. Creative director Soula: How do you Communicate Art, Design & Chronic Pain)