RPA Artist-in-Residence makes COVID-19 surgical sculpture
Costume designer Jo Woodcroft is used to receiving unusual requests.
“I’m always making weird and wonderful costumes and props for TV, film or theatre productions,” she said, from her studio at Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west.
This year, Jo was also selected to be one of RPA’s 2020 Artist-in-Residence for the Institute of Academic Surgery.
The team at RPA’s Arts + Health program, Arterie@RPA, in partnership with the IAS, commissioned Jo to create an artwork to spark curiosity and conversation about surgery.
“We commissioned Jo to work with out-of-date surgical equipment to design and create a costume sculpture,” Amanda Solomon, the founder and head of Arterie@RPA, said.
“We asked her to deconstruct tubes, masks, wires, drains and other surgical objects and then reinterpret and upcycle them for her piece,” she said.
Jo began creating the costume sculpture at RPA hospital during the District’s annual March Arts Festival, which highlights the benefits of integrating The Arts into the design and delivery of health care.
“I pulled the surgical equipment apart. I was inspired by the shape and colour of the equipment. I wanted the sculpture to have an organic, natural form even though it’s made from clinical materials,” Jo said.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, and the Festival cancelled, Jo continued to work on the sculpture at her studio. And, as the pandemic unfolded, it had a devastating impact on her family.
“My uncle died from the virus in the UK in early May. It was a huge loss for our family. It was particularly difficult not to be able to travel to attend his funeral,” she said.
COVID-19 also had an influence on the design of the costume sculpture.
“I was working on my own during lockdown in Sydney, and was in a different headspace. The sculpture ended up being made in a different context and environment.
“I called the sculpture “COVID Creation” – there’s a mask around the face. It reflects the time in which it was made,” she said.
The sculpture is now on display at RPA’s Institute of Academic Surgery.
“It’s such a colourful, eye-catching sculpture. It’ll certainly spark curiosity and conversation among surgeons, particularly because it was created during a period that we’ve never before experienced,” Kate McBride, the executive director of the IAS, said.
“Bringing together The Arts and surgery is really important for the IAS as we like to encourage innovation and different ways of thinking, and there are so many synergies between the two fields”, she said.
It’s the third Artist in Residence collaboration between Arterie@RPA and the IAS.To learn more about Jo and her work, please visit Jo Woodcroft Creative