Insulin lampshade - Melissa Bhalla-Pentney

Inspiration details:

Insulin 8.27

Wallpaper

England, Great Britain

1951

Odell, William J. (designer) John Line & Son (printer)

Colour screenprint, on paper

V&A collection reference number(s):
E.884-1978

Artist Statement

Melissa Bhalla-Pentney

I was inspired by Insulin 8.27 (Wallpaper) from the V and A print rooms. The piece takes the visual form of something incredibly scientific, the crystalline form of insulin and changes it into an elaborate, floral and practical wallpaper design. Insulin has a special significance to me as I have a 6 year old son who has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Insulin saves his live and is still as important today as it was in the 1950’s when the wallpaper was designed.
I progressed my initial drawings done at the museum to a wallpaper design lino printed on A3 paper. The lino printing module at Peterborough College’s Printmaking course gave me the confidence to progress my design further, creating a lino printed cotton lampshade. I love to create pieces that are decorative but functional.
I developed the background pattern from the original wallpaper into my design as diagonal blocks. To me the uncontrolled swirling patterns inside the juxtaposed diagonal blocks represents the ongoing struggle to maintain the high and low sugar levels of my son’s diabetes. In the hexagonal shape I chose to represent the use of insulin needles radiating around the centre. For my son the constant use of needles to inject insulin is painful and significant.
I choose lino cut because of its versatility to cut and print the detailed shapes and intricate swirling patterns. I cut two individual blocks of lino and printed directly onto white cotton using linseed fabric inks. I tried to keep the colour combinations true to the original inspiration. However, I lightened the background and kept the design simple, so more light could pass through the lampshade, giving it a modern, clean feel.
Creating this piece has help me process the initial negative feelings attached to my son’s chronic condition.

Insulin lampshade - Melissa Bhalla-Pentney

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Inspiration details:

Insulin 8.27

Wallpaper

England, Great Britain

1951

Odell, William J. (designer) John Line & Son (printer)

Colour screenprint, on paper

V&A collection reference number(s):
E.884-1978

2015 Exhibition Guide

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