Kathleen Jamie is a writer and poet and currently holds the Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Stirling. In 2012 she was a visiting fellow at Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study as part of The Recovery of Beauty programme coordinated by CMH Directors Jane Macnaughton and Corinne Saunders.
During her fellowship, Kathleen shared with us a very moving work in progress – a collaboration, with artist Brigid Collins, entitled Frissure. An essay and six artworks from this project have just been published in Granta Magazine:
“Last May, just as I turned forty-nine, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As anyone will tell you who’s undergone the experience – and we are legion – the first few days and weeks were times of clinic appointments, needles, scans, consultations and anxious waiting.
Also, for me, it seemed ironic, a case of life imitating art. Over the last several years I had spent time in medical museums gazing at body parts preserved in oils, and I’d studied many The image was rather beautiful, a grey-glowing circle, like the full moon seen through binoculars. nineteenth-century medical illustrations. These had informed my work. I’d gone so far as to publish an essay called ‘Pathologies’ (Granta 102), about what happened in the pathology lab at Ninewells, my nearest teaching hospital. There, I’d been shown a cancerous tumour in a colon, and – on screen – in a liver, and I’d looked down microscopes. I’d learned how pathologists diagnose and treat cancer, amongst other diseases.
Then, suddenly, it was my turn…”
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