dinamap, healthcare, illustration, children, hannah foley, lino, green, blue, vital signs, heart rate, blood pressureI’m fascinated by layers. My dissertation for my degree was about layers in landscape. I once read about how the Japanese value tarnished objects more than polished ones because the tarnish shows the layers of handling. The object gains worth because of all the hands that have touched it. Wherever we have lived I’ve always been fascinated by the lives of the previous occupants, especially where we could find clues to residents from long, long ago. Many of the weeds in our garden on the farm in Scotland were brought over from Europe in medieval times and were valued for their medicinal or cloth dying properties.

Moving into our new home it is easy to get frustrated by the unsympathetic or just downright shoddy work done to the house by previous occupiers. I’m not kidding when I say that someone has literally sawn off the bottom section of the mantelpiece in our bedroom and has just painted over it, jagged saw marks and all. It’s an old house and it should have been treated with more respect. Nevertheless I’m learning to love the layers.

We found an empty packet of Players cigarettes under a windowsill, just like my grandad used to smoke. In the garden we uncovered a rusty medal from an Australian WW2 veteran and a square of an old piece of china with a ruby red rose design. Someone once loved that little plot. It has some lovely mature shrubs that are exactly what I would choose, giving interest throughout the year. Instead of cursing the chipboard floor set a whole inch below the bottom of the skirting board in the hall, I’m learning to stop and wonder. What happened to the original floor and why didn’t they replace it with floorboards? Maybe something had happened to it at just the worst time, just when someone had lost their job and they could only afford the chipboard replacement. Or maybe they genuinely thought the chipboard was better. No, surely not?! Let’s go with the made redundant option!

I had a lovely moment in the week before we moved in. We had some overlap with our old house and I was over cleaning in preparation for the move. I’d woken Finch up from his nap and brought him down into the middle room. We sat in a square of sunlight on the bare carpet and I sang him some silly nonsense songs as he slowly came round. I couldn’t help feeling that other mums had sat in that same sunny spot and had sung to their sons just as I was doing. It felt as if the house was remembering, and smiling.

Here’s an illustration from a recent commission about healthcare.

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