ARC Project Profile: Judy Foley, Foreign Body, 2019

Foreign Body, O’Reilly Institute, Trinity College Dublin, 14 to 28 March 2019 (image: Judy Foley)

During her time on the ARC Programme, Judy Foley explored the use of handcraft in the production of medical implants, which reside within the human body for the purpose of extending and enhancing life.

As an artist who produces handmade objects, Judy is especially interested in the fact that the ancient craft of hand sewing is used to fundamentally alter and transcend the human condition.  She focuses on specific objects such as prosthetic heart valves, which are painstakingly hand stitched by skilled industry technicians in a process taking two to three days.

Over the past year, Judy created a series of tiny objects, which reference the materials and techniques used in the manufacture of implants such as stents and valves. She also took photographs of each sculptural object, for display on Instagram.

Heart valve with blanket stitch, felted wool, beeswax and thread, 3cm diameter (image: Judy Foley)

To learn more about the design and use of medical implants, Judy developed an interdisciplinary  collaboration within the team of Bruce Murphy, Assoc. Prof in Biomechanical Engineering, and funded investigator at AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering, at Trinity College Dublin, where she is currently artist-in-residence.

In March 2019, Judy presented a selection of her objects, installed within sculptural vitrines, in a solo exhibition titled Foreign Body, at the O’Reilly Institute, Trinity College Dublin, which was part funded by the Trinity College Dublin Fund for the Visual and Performing Arts.

Stents, detail, mild steel, Plaster of Paris, steel pins and thread, 8 x 2.5cm diameter (image: Judy Foley)

The exhibition was accompanied by a small publication, designed by writer and artist Eoghan McIntyre and featuring a conversation between Judy and Anne Mullee, curator of The Courthouse Gallery. The publication can be downloaded here Foreign Body exhibition handout.

Foreign Body launch event (image: Luke Brehony)