Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Umbrella Treatment

I remember being horrified at school, on being taught that syphilis had to be scraped away – from the inside of the penis – by a device known as the ‘umbrella’. This, we were told, had been the standard treatment, between the Wars. And they left our imagination to a visual image.
But in ‘Art-and-Craft’ class my imagination found a concrete form. This is a collage of what I imagined the ‘umbrella’ treatment for syphilis would have looked like. I was 15 when I created it, and it’s a mixed media work: Bitchumen; Perspex; toothpaste; coffee; coffee-filter-bag; coat-hanger; Kleenex (used); umbrella cover (with umbrella pattern). I never went on to do ‘O Level Art’.
Vintage photograph (only recently discovered) © Chris Lucas (my father). 

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