Art and Road Safety
As an ex-Secondary Teacher and ex-Nurse, the wide ranging effects of car accidents (both physical and psychological) were very familiar. This was compounded by living within a drag racing ‘community’ where issues become very clear. Helene’s painting is a process of discovery and tells her where to go. It was ‘necessary’ for her to use materials from road accidents or drivers who were negligent about car maintenance. Thus pieces of car tyre, shattered windscreen glass, car parts etc were collected to assemble sculptures. Helene then realised from recorded feedback that her works were being effective in brain reprogramming. Some figures or paintings allowed grief over deaths (car or cancer); others portrayed what happens to the brain in an accident; rings made from tyre pieces and windscreen glass combined with repetitive radio advertising became engagement rings (aimed at 20-30year olds). Even the horrific practice of imprisoning people in car tyres and setting fire to them, in South Africa, was provided a catharsis through her sculptures.
During her Nursing ‘life’ Helene set up education programmes about death which up to the late 60’s was quietly considered a ‘medical failure’. She also worked with different cultural attitudes and rituals surrounding death – so it would not be unexpected that Death and Culture would play a large part in her Art. Likewise the recorded evidence that her art was influencing and changing brain patterns would set the ‘stage’ for working with the neuroscience dept.
Road Print (Etching) © Helene Merriman