In August 1979 the Sunday papers ran obituary articles for Lord Mountbatten, killed by an IRA bomb. One of these filled a double-page spread with an enlarged photograph of his campaign medals. I kept this image, intrigued by the idea that coloured ribbons were used as a visual language to represent places, dates, deeds, campaigns, rank, and our monarchy’s pageantry.

Large-scale multi-coloured paintings of strips, targets and patterns also resonate meaning through form. Making it possible to see a connection between the language of paintings with that of military service. One expresses meaning through coloured paint applied to canvas, the other through the weaving of ribbons.

Synaesthesia is a cognitive ability to perceive something, be it words, names or numbers, in another form. Some people connect a distinct smell to names, others see numbers or days of the week as a colour. The speed with which some people can answer a complex mathematical question is explained by their ability to picture each number as a separate entity and sums as threads of different-coloured beads. 

These ideas of mapping life, things and events by colour and pattern all tie together. I made a series of works based on medal bars, including a set to represent my life. In 2006 I was commissioned to produce a set of ‘life medals’ to celebrate the subject’s achievement of a PhD. I continue to explore threads and meaning. I have written an essay called Badges of Honour, or Weapons of Compromisewhich you can read at: and scroll down to Articles.

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