Is Chronic illness Live Art?

A fairly recent, very light-hearted, conversation prompted a thought. And as my readers will know, that’s not unusual for me. 

The conversation…

I had been chatting with one of my children & reflecting on their recent visit to Tate Modern in London. (No, I still haven’t reached the dizzy heights of London.) We discussed our general feelings on modern art & how it is interpreted, and how I often struggle to interpret it. I mentioned a news piece I’d seen recently, which explored an installation of elevated vacuum cleaners.

As I sat and briefly scanned the flecks on the carpet, I commented could my living room be presented as a piece of modern art, suddenly my youngster replied “mum, you, your life, are living art. I laughed… quite loud! 

A little while later, after the chat and smiles had subsided, the thoughts soaked through my brain…like syrup soaking into a cake sponge (best analogy I can think of, it always takes a while). I thought, perhaps life within chronic illness could very well be described as living art. So I looked it up and have consequently collated a few thoughts on it, along with a question.

‘Could life with Chronic Illness be interpreted as a form of living art or Live Art. Is Chronic illness Live Art’?


Hands up, I am absolutely no expert on the subject of Live Art (we noticed) or art in general. I love art, in all its multitude of forms from painting, crafts, music, radio, to dance and physical performance. I have been artistic in my life, in a variety of forms & settings, on a hobby scale. But it stopped when I became ill. I’m beginning to rediscover it’s joy in new ways.

Here is a definition of Live Art from the experts ~

The paragraph below has been included with very kind permission of the Live Art Development Agency. Please follow the attached links. There is a web link to the original source below the quoted paragraph.

The paragraph!

Live Art is a research engine, driven by artists who are working across forms, contexts and spaces to open up new artistic models, new languages for the representation of ideas and identities, and new strategies for intervening in the public sphere.  

I’m happy to admit that I almost fell over when I received Copyright Permission. (Except that I was lying down at the time.) Absolutely made my day. 


When you visit the links, you’ll likely notice that it’s quite an edgy subject. Stepping into areas of life which can be out of a comfort zone, represented in a new way from one more familiar. That is so much like Chronic Illness, the slight difference being that you are unapologetically shoved into the world of Chronic illness. There is no subtlety. But the more I read the attached link, the more I can see the connection.

It is an art adjusting to changes in health. Over time goals and achievements can be celebrated, but also can be a challenge to understand. Sometimes you just have to live, be and stop analysing. Another similarity.

Many words leapt out at me in the quoted paragraph.  I’ve expanded on a few with my perspective of Chronic illness life.

  • New Language ~ it is a completely new language, to live with and learn to understand. And express who you still are.
  • Ideas ~ they are much-needed as coping mechanisms & distractions. And conveying your needs. 
  • Identities ~ are completely changed.
  • Representationa new representation of yourself, of who you perceive yourself to be. You may also require representation, someone to act on your behalf. That can be an art to accept.
  • Strategies ~ they are absolutely vital to survival. To help adapt to a different life, to be creative in ways you never dreamed you would be thinking about.
  • Intervening ~ bridging the gap. I’m aware that many people work tirelessly at this. There is still a way to go. 
  • Public ~ in that the view & perception of you by other people can be completely changed. Your life can become very public, up for discussion or comment. If out in a wheelchair or using a mobility aid, often all folk will see or perceive is disability. Not the ability to overcome the hurdle, and the being creative in actually managing to get out for a while.

I am behind the times on the subject of Live Art, I definitely am. Perhaps I’m a little way off target. And will be learning more about it. But I’m still happy to have explored the subject in a small way, and as I said earlier I can definitely see the connection.

I appreciate that I have only the scratched the surface, as my brain works slowly. Ideas take time and expressing them is a challenge. Another post, therefore, may be forthcoming!

One experience of Live Art (well that is my perception of it), popped back into my memory while writing.

I recall watching the BBC documentary (several years ago) about David Hockney painting his My Yorkshire & Bigger Trees Near Warter. Tears began to stream down my face. I was astonished that paintings could create that response in me.

It was a journey into nature, an escape from four walls. Where I wanted to be. I was transported there…walking in the woodland kicking leaves, throwing a stick for my dog & taking in all the colours and scents. Art was alive in my living room. It was tangible.

I also cried because I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the exhibition in person & look in amazement at the vastness and colour of the paintings. Maybe this doesn’t come under the umbrella of Live Art, but after reading further into link for me at that time it was very alive.

At that time I knew nothing about forms of Live Art, or plein. And yes, you guessed, I’m no Art graduate.

So whether it’s; a Collage, enjoying an audio book, knitting in bed, expressing your needs, a favoured uplift power ballad or film excerpt (I have a few), finding that perfect ‘ready in waiting’ space for the wheelie, smiling back at that strange look, perfecting your pacing (I live in hope that could happen!), enjoying a rare trip out, or having funky resting cushions…..

Live Art

Is Chronic illness Live Art’? … I think so. A Live dynamic, brave & gritty Art!

More thoughts will no doubt surface once the publish button is pressed & after more ‘syrup soaking’!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my post. What part of your life or experience would you consider Live Art? Is there a particular word from ‘The Paragraph’ which leaps out at you?

Thanks so much again to the Live Art Development Agency for allowing me to include the paragraph in my post. It’s very much appreciated. I hope you enjoy my angle and expanding on the theme. And to my youngster for prompting the thought!

And thanks to fellow MEeps/pwME. I appreciate reading can be very difficult & is a real energy consumer.

Thanks so much for popping by. And until next time. God bless.

Penny @hopefoundinme

Song suggestion ~

Broken Beautiful ~ Chloe Reynolds

I’m also taking the opportunity to add a link to the innovative film about ME/cfs by Jennifer Brea ~ UNREST will be available to view in the UK during October, 2017. Details in the link below. I’ll be waiting for an online viewing.

UNREST ~ a film by Jennifer Brea

13 thoughts on “Is Chronic illness Live Art?

  1. If you hadn’t explored this I would never have considered chronic illness could be illustrated within art. You are absolutely right. The picture of t’ wheelchair screams at you. How incredible. Through chronic illness you have to explore how to adapt your life and lifestyle. Whether that be the day to day or, as you have so admirably explained, adapting the creative you. Your body oozes creativity and the chronic illness has not crushed that….just curtailed it till your body was ready to go go go. Great blog Penny…very thought provoking. Love hugs kisses

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! I wholeheartedly agree that our lives, both the easy times and the hardships craft a work of art that speaks clearly to the observer. May His strength be portrayed clearly in us, as we learn to fully trust Him with our very lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting and thought provoking post. Love your perspective on this. I think you’re so right in how you say it’s an art adjusting to changes in health. It really is! Enjoyed this, thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hmmm. Interesting concept. It made me see things in a different way. God’s grace: art. God’s plan: art. Our changed perspective on life, when quality life has fewer moments: art. Healing in moments, days, weeks, entirely: art. Heaven: art!! I enjoyed your writing style and humor! But one thing I noted, Penny is that in your list of changes you say Identity. No- it doesn’t! what happens to us and around us is not our identity! I- am not my cancer/chemo side effects, arthiritis and diabetes. I am a child of God. and that makes me pretty good art! Thanks for this insightful post!


    1. Hi April – Thanks so much for stopping by to read my post. I appreciate it & thank you for commenting. The words I expanded on (from the extract I had been given permission to include), are those which really resonated (without making the post overly long). I’m sorry if part of that offended you in some way.

      For me trying not to rely on my own strength (when it’s been wiped away) & basically trying to rebuild step by minute step, has changed my identity. I am strong in Christ & not in me. Without him I would not have coped with 13 years of ill health so far (12 of which homebound & counting). I have definitely changed & had to dig deep & lean in to Him. It is a miracle that I can read, I couldn’t for 7 years & struggled to formulate a sentence. Their have been others, throughout my life.

      I write with the hope that I can offer some encouragement. But not every part or detail of ones life is shared in a blog post. Once again I’m sorry if you felt offended, that is never my intention. I just write from my own experience, it’s taken many years to reach the point of enough cognitive function to do it.
      God’s blessings be with you. Penny ❤


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