From an info panel in the exhibit: Cradle to Grave explores our approach to health in Britain today and addresses some of the ways that people deal with sickness and try to secure well-being.
It was created by Susie Freeman, a textile artist, David Critchley, a video artist, and Dr. Liz Lee, a general practitioner. The two lengths of fabric illustrate the medical stories of a man and a woman. Each piece contains over 14,000 drugs, the estimated average prescribed to every person in Britain in their lifetime, incorporated in ‘pockets’ of knitted nylon filament.
Some treatments are common to both: each started life with and injection of vitamin K and immunisations, and both take antibiotics and painkillers at various times.
Other treatments are more specific. The man has asthma and hay fever when young, but enjoys good health until his fifties. At seventy, he stops smoking after a bad chest infection. He is treated for hight blood pressure for the last ten years of his life. He dies of a stroke at the age of seventy-six, having taken as many pills in the last ten years of his life as in the first sixty-six.
The woman take contraceptive pills when young and hormone replacement therapy in middle age. After a mammogram she is diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer. In old age she develops arthritis and diabetes, but is still alive aged eighty-two.
Cradle to Grave also contains medical and personal objects, documents and photographs and captions written by the owners tracing typical events in people’s lives. These show that maintaining well-being is more complex than just treating illness.