Anyone with pain in pelvis?

Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia (PPFA) is a squeaky new not-for-profit organisation, and the group of people involved are top-notch professionals who are dedicated to promoting education and research into pelvic pain. They just had an official launch in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago, and as an ambassador for this foundation, I was there to show a couple of my artworks. These paintings show my own subjective pelvic pain experience – pain related fear, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety bordering on rational and irrational thought patterns.

 

presenting my paintings and talking about my art process and the concept at the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia Adelaide Launch

talking about my art process and the concept at the launch

 

I’ve produced 12 limited edition prints for one of the paintings, Attached to my Adhesion, and 20% of the sale proceeds go towards the foundation. Here is the link to the foundation where the prints can be purchased. They are entirely funded by private sponsors and supporters, and all members of the foundation volunteer their time and expertise. Absolutely 100% of all donations, including the 20% sales proceeds from my prints, go towards research into pelvic pain. So if you feel generous and would like to see public awareness, better education and research in the area of pelvic pain in Australia, please consider donating to this worthy cause.

Attached to My Adhesion 12 Limited edition prints on Giclee Cotton Rag 50×50 cm

Attached to My Adhesion
12 Limited edition prints on Giclee Cotton Rag
50×50 cm

 

Back to my artwork. I’ve written a short explanation to go with the painting, Attached to my Adhesion, along with a signed certificate of authenticity for the print when purchased. This is what I’ve written about the painting:

I have always found pain difficult to express in words. Attached to My Adhesion is an attempt to convey my own psychological experiences of the pain-related fear of endometriosis and Adenomyosis through visual metaphor.

This small-scale self-portrait painting, as with all of my other paintings, starts in a miniature diorama at my studio. I create my own private world in a small room setup, and it represents my internal body as well as the perception of my own being. Standing in the room on my own is a metaphor for the private and lonely nature of pain – no one feels the same pain, nor can it be shared.

The white Korean dress I’m wearing can be interpreted either as a traditional Korean petticoat or funeral dress. I often interchange between them in my paintings as they are not only similar in colour and cut, they also stand for a state of vulnerability. A woman in her petticoat in public is considered absolutely taboo in Korea, as the utmost private moment is exposed. A funeral dress is a symbolic representation of mourning for loss – for my independence, dignity, vitality, and even self-worth. In this painting, I am wearing only the bottom half of the dress to portray the feeling of incompleteness as a person, a woman, a mother and a friend. I turn my back to conceal from the viewer that I have my hands around my throat, overwhelmed by the extreme pain and helplessness.

The large bonsai tree standing next to me relies on an outside source, the water, to maintain its vitality. But there are so many questions; what if the water stops flowing, what if this water isn’t water at all, or is something toxic, what will happen to the tree? This relationship between the tree and the water represents the cycle of corrosive and fearful thoughts that feed my pain. 

From outside of the window a visceral substance creeps in and attaches itself to the objects in the room, my private world. This is how I imagine the inflammation and adhesions inside of me. Whether it is behaving systematically or arbitrarily, it’s hard to say. On the other hand, the dragon seems to thrive on this red substance, as if it is encouraging its presence in the room.

Every element inside this room, whether it’s beneficial or detrimental, clearly seems at home in this environment, and some, like the tree and the dragon, are even flourishing. Although it is difficult for me to acknowledge, indeed each element in this painting portrays a part of me.

More on the print – it took me a while to find a printer who could produce the best reproduction and when I finally did and saw the artist proof, I was super impressed with the result. There were a few other printers who could have done the prints for me but the difference between them and this printer was that others could only photograph my paintings and then retouch on Photoshop whereas this printing company (Cie-Elle) has a German built Cruse flatbed scanner, i.e., much better result than photographing it. (Note for the reader: I am not getting any financial gain by promoting this printer. I’m just completely happy with the print result and want to tell everyone how glad I am to have found such a good printer.)

This article has 8 comments

  1. Catherine, Do you mind sending me the link to your ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign on Facebook please? I tried to find it but wasn’t sure which ‘go fund me’ page was yours. I’d like to chip in for the cause.

  2. By the way Vanessa, how do you find your creative outlet? What’s your form of art?

  3. I’m so glad you are interested in getting involved Vanessa! I just have to finish off my animation work first, and then I’ll get into gathering stories from patients in full swing. I’m so pleased! Thanks Vanessa!

  4. Hi Catherine and Vanessa,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I find it a lot easier to communicate through images than words when it comes to pain.

    Funny enough, I used to wonder if I could get a transplant for my entire pelvic area too. It’s really great to hear both of you are running a support group in WA. I must check out the Sydney one at some stage. How are your support group going? How is it structured? From what you’ve briefly mentioned before, you are sharing some practical information about good specialists and things? Launching Pelvic Pain Foundation in WA sounds like a wonderful idea! I’ve learned more about pelvic pain issues in the last few months than years of struggling on my own in the past thanks to this foundation. They really know what they are doing – I was thinking about this organisation the other day, and thought to myself that world is a better place for the pelvic pain sufferers now because of them…. It sounds like a corny slogan for a cheesy advertisement I know, but I really think it’s about time somebody does something about this widespread condition, and here they are! I was at the both Adelaide and Melbourne launch and was amazed how much they’ve managed to achieve already, and they’ve only started less than a year ago. It clearly shows there is a huge demand for their expertise.

    Please keep up the good work in running the support group in WA, and perhaps I’ll make a trip to WA one day to meet you! Thank you so much for reading my blog, I’ll try to post more interesting topics on my art and pain as regularly as possible. Meanwhile please do take a good care of yourselves, one day at a time :)

  5. Cathetine Aurubind
    Saturday 28 March 2015, 11:02 pm |

    I must introduce myself here too Eugenie as I too have travelled this painful journey. I am so amazed at how you have captured the anguish and suffering in your painting. Somehow you’ve turned something so painful in real life into a beautiful art piece. You mentioned how difficult this pain is to explain. Your painting says it all. Such an amazing achievement .

    Vanessa and I have supported each other for 8 years now and we run a support group here in Perth. I see now that WHRIA also hold a support group in Sydney.

    10 years ago I went on a crusade to find an answer to my horrific neuropathic pelvic pain. And find it I did….thanks to the few doctors who believed in me and who took the time to listen to my desperate cries for help. I’m so delighted to see things improve in this area of medicine. I’m so disappointed I couldn’t make it to Melbourne to meet you at the launch of Pelvic Pain Foundation but I’m sure Vanessa and I will meet you one day. Hopefully in the near future.

    I commend you on your beautiful talent as an artist despite suffering so. Thank you for being an ambassador for pelvic pain awareness. It makes our effort here in the West worthwhile. Vanessa and I are hoping we can raise funds to bring a launch of Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia to WA. I’ve opened up a ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign on Facebook hoping to raise some money for pelvic pain awareness and education.

    This horrific, intolerable pain needs to be discussed more and people need to know there is help out there. Too many people suffering inssilence. This is a sleeping giant.

    You’re such s inspiration. Thank you.

    Catherine Aurubind
    Perth WA

  6. Hi Eugenie! Thanks for your reply :) Wow you do your research-finding that article! Ha! Yes we all have stories to tell and I think the important thing is to share them-either the written word, with art (I’m arty and creative so find a similar outlet that way) …or by talking about them. I hope women never feel alone that is why I do public speaking about my journey and tell women that there IS help out there. I run the support group in Perth for that very reason- to give back and help others on their journey get the help with the right people (as I had to go through so many bad experiences with health practitioners to find to ones who could help, that I want to save others time)
    As for your question-absolutely!!! Would love to be involved :) Feel free to email me if you need any more info.
    Hope today is a bit brighter and quieter for you (pain wise) so that you can enjoy those special moments of joy x

  7. Dear Vanessa,
    Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your experience here. I’m so glad you could understand my visual language and found something you can relate to. I hope the image helped you to validate your own pain experience.
    I read an article about your ordeal, http://www.bettinaarndt.com.au/health-sex/pelvic-pain/vanessa-watsons-story/ Vanessa, you went through so much… I can only imagine how harrowing it has been for you. It is such a relief to know now that you are managing it better.
    Currently I’m collecting stories of other pain sufferers’ for my future artworks. Would you like to be involved Vanessa?

  8. This was the first image of yours I saw -in relation to the launch of the Pelvic Pain foundation and it took me back to those years of me twenties when I didn’t know I had adhesions and had no idea how much damage they were doing to my internal organs. As a Gynae nurse (very ironic I know) I started the quest for a child-the many surgeries that followed just created more and more adhesions and your painting captured that feeling perfectly-like they were growing from a tree but overtaking my ‘perfect’ body..,I got my beautiful bouncy twins thinking the pain would be over…but needed full hysterectomy when they were a few months old (the grief with that would fill a book) Finding out I had Adenomyosis too gave my story the full stop I thought…but then I still had adhesion pain :( the search for answers for this cause was relentless…told the pain was in my head…but persistence paid off and I found I had Pudendal Nerve Entrapment and fly from Perth to Sydney for decompression surgery…but the pain persists and the adhesions remain….a cycle (like a tree) but one I wish I could poison at the roots! Thanks you for being an artist who conveys pain in an universal way-yes you are in it, but it is not just your experience, it is so many of our experiences which we can substitute ourselves into the picture-you have a gift as an artist to do this-well done!

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