Crohn’s Inspired Sculpture

Crohn’s Inspired Sculpture 416 600 Simon O'Rourke

Next week is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week in the UK (1st – 7th Dec 2021). Their theme is ‘Your Story Matters’ and Crohn’s and Colitis UK are encouraging everyone to share their story; patients, carers, supporters, nurses – anyone with a connection.
Back in 2017, Simon created a Crohn’s inspired sculpture for an award-winning charity garden at RHS Tatton Park. We haven’t shared the story on here, so we thought this week would be a good time to blog about the Crohn’s inspired sculpture, and hopefully raise awareness of the disease.

 

Eight people stand in a garden with their hands raised. The garden is part of RHS Tatton Park 2017 and the people were all helped create it

Simon with the others involved in the Crohn’s Inspired Garden at RHS Tatton Park 2017

 

The Story Behind the Garden

The person behind the Crohn’s garden was passionate amateur gardener, Denise Shields. After her son had a near-fatal Crohn’s relapse, she felt inspired to create a garden to tell his story and raise awareness of his condition. RHS flower shows have a variety of charity gardens each year and many others that tell a story. Named “Facing Fear: Finding Hope”, this one took the viewer on a journey beginning with the fear a patient faces at diagnosis. As the viewer walked through the garden, there were elements that portrayed the emotional and physical highs and lows. Walking through the garden finally took the viewer to a sculpture representing hope. To read more about the garden itself on the RHS website, click HERE.

The garden received praise from both visitors and judges. It even received an award!

 

view through a garden to a redwood chair. the chair is a crohn's inspired sculpture by artist simon o'rourke. it depicts a person with their head in their hands, in physical and emotional pain

The walkway through the garden to Simon’s Crohn’s inspired sculpture.

Simon’s Crohn’s Inspired Sculpture: “Alone”

Simon’s commission was for a sculpture/chair that would represent the Crohns’ patient at diagnosis. He made this poignant chair named “Alone” and it’s fitting in so many ways:

  • The head in arms shows the despair, disappointment and sadness many people feel at receiving the diagnosis of a chronic disease that will forever influence how they live.
  • The person in this sculpture is physically alone. And the reality is that no matter how strong a community the person is in, there is a massive amount related to Crohn’s that they will walk through alone.
  • The posture also clearly reflects a sense of isolation and protection – even though the anatomy is broken by the hollowed-out chair.  This is because many patients with Crohn’s talk about feeling isolated. Isolated because their condition can lead to missing out on Community and socialising. Isolated because people don’t understand the condition that is so central to their lives. And isolated because, as an “invisible illness“, the ‘outside world’ often has no idea about the physical pain, difficulties and constant mental load a Crohn’s patient carries.

 

crohn's inspired sculpture of a man with head in hands reflecting despair

 

More about “Alone”: A Crohn’s inspired Sculpture

Then there is the hollowed-out anatomy that creates the chair. It is hard not to relate it to being where our intestines are found – the part of the body Crohn’s impacts.

Being “hollow” is also fitting. Diseases like Crohn’s can be hard in and of themselves. Treatments and management can be hard. Side effects can be hard. The social, financial, dietary, and occupational effects can be hard. All these can leave patients feeling “Like a shell of themselves“, or “hollow” like the sculpture.

Thankfully that isn’t where the Crohn’s patient has to remain, and it isn’t where the garden finished. And while Denise wanted people to know about the difficulties of the disease, she also wanted people to know and be encouraged that there is hope to be found.

 

Simon O'rourke standing next to his crohn's inspired sculpture. the sculpture depicts a person with their head in their hands atop a hollowed out stomach that makes a chair

 

Using Art to Raise Awareness

If you have followed for a while, you’ll know that Simon and Liz frequently contribute and raise funds for causes that improve patient lives. They also love when a commission helps someone raise money over a longer time for one of those causes, such as the latest sculpture trail in Picton. Being an artist also gives Simon the opportunity to raise awareness of specific topics. It is always a privilege to be asked to give voice to passion, purpose or cause.

 

The team behind the Facing Fear: Finding Hope garden with Denise and her son, Callum. It was a privilege for Simon to work with them to tell part of Callum’s story.

With this kind of awareness-raising commission, Simon will always look to learn more about the person and impact so he can accurately tell a story. As with all his commissions, he will listen to your story and your experience as well as your ideas and preferences for a sculpture. From there he will create sketches for you of his initial ideas which you can work with him to refine. Sometimes he will create your sculpture on-site if it will use a standing trunk. Other times he will create the sculpture in the studio and then deliver and install the sculpture.

Whatever the process, Simon will make it easy every step of the way, and is knowledgeable about and helpful with practicalities as well as the artistic process.

 

 

Commissioning and Awareness-Raising Sculpture

Just as his story-telling abilities can greatly enhance a business, they can also greatly enhance sharing your story. We use the phrase “A picture tells a thousand words” for a reason! In the case of this sculpture (and garden) people were definitely moved and impacted as they ‘experienced’ Callum’s story told through garden design. If you have a story to tell and would like Simon to do it with a sculpture, contact him via www.treecarving.co.uk/contact and he will be in touch!

And, this Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week, if you are looking for support, don’t be alone! Crohn’s and Colitis UK. has resources for patients, carers and supporters.