Swimming Against the Tide

Photographs and words by Kirsty Logan

Artist Statement:

This project is about the road to both mental and physical recovery. Whilst the work I have completed is about me personally, and the difficulties that I have faced, during the process to diagnosis of Seronegative Rheumatoid arthritis and the mental battles that accompany this. I think it is a good indicator of what others have been through also. I focused my imagery on the water due to the connotations it holds, there are peaks and troughs, highs and lows, rough and calm. Depth of the water was another area that I wanted to look at as not only can it be used to talk about the depths of emotion an individual can feel, a common comment when people are having a difficult time is to say that they feel out of their depth. As in Roni Horn’s Another Water, it also needs to be acknowledged that bodies of water are often place people go to end their lives when life just seems too overwhelming to carry on anymore.

Whilst the water can say a great deal about the bad connotations, it is important to also look at the good. Many people including myself find that sound of the ocean and lapping of other bodies of water to be extremely soothing. There are also other therapeutic benefits to water, many will find it cleansing to wash away their problems, and also individuals who suffer with joint problems are encouraged to exercise in the water to take pressure away from their bodies and assist in recovery. You could also link this to other connotations of water, individuals get blessed and baptised using water, and also believe miracles occur like those who make pilgrimages to Lourdes

 The Darkest Moments - Kirsty Logan, 2019
The Darkest Moments – Kirsty Logan, 2019

4th April 2017.

So today I ended up in a moon boot, with the instruction of if I even attempted to carry on my training for the London Marathon I would be out of my mind! The Doctors are convinced the Achilles is intact but there could be a tear which explains the popping. To say that I am devastated does not even cover it. If only I could have lasted 3 more weeks.
What am I supposed to do about my charity??? I really hope no one asks for the funds back as I have no idea how I would be able to afford it!!!
Turbulence – Kirsty Logan, 2019

23rd April 2017.

I should have been in London today.
I watched all of the coverage from start to finish, willing to see my team and more importantly my training partner, who I should have been with during the highs and the lows of the 26.2 miles. I feel cheated. I cried all day, Trying to feel positive is just not on the agenda today. I feel sorry for my loved ones having to be around me. I’m a mixture of miserable, over emotional and so angry that I let this happen.
Clouding the View – Kirsty Logan, 2019

28th April 2017

Today was my first physio session. To say it went badly would be an understatement. My leg is in such a bad state he could barely touch it. The pain is exhausting to the point where I just cried throughout the treatment. He is hopeful that it will get better with time, but he is not able to put a timeline on it. He said it would have been better if it had gone through a full dislocation instead of the partial bit it had done. I just wish I could do something. I feel useless. I can’t see my running friends as I pretty much can’t walk for longer than 10 minutes! I miss them, I miss running and being able to alleviate bad thoughts through running. Instead I feel stuck, and sad and useless.
Torment – Kirsty Logan, 2019

3rd July 2017

Two months into treatment, my physio has got my leg moving again, not pain free but moving. He said I could try a run again, but only 2 lamposts in every 1k. I don’t know if it was sheer adreneline, but I didn’t follow the rules to the letter. I over did it. I now can’t move my leg properly. Almost to the point at the very beginning. I have no one to blame but myself. Going back to the haze of the painkillers, I feel bad for not following the rules, I’ve undone the hard work we had achieved. I don’t know how I could have been so silly. then there is all the “I told you so’s”!!! They just make me feel even worse that I already did.

Acceptance – Kirsty Logan, 2019

30th August 2017

I think I am coming to accept that my leg may not be the same again. This has been quite a good moment to have. Maybe it is just marathon training had taken up so much time that when running was taken away I hadn’t found the activity to fill the gap. So when I got accepted to study for my MA it was a shock to the system to actually still be able to do something well. I got my preliminary first batch on results from Uni today – I passed, this made me feel good. I met up with the girls from running group and went for a walk – I think I am beginning to just say it is OK with the pity looks and the “You’ll get there” comments


Daily Battles – Kirsty Logan 2019

12th September 2017

One thing that I have learnt since I got injured, is that everyday is a battle – Its difficult to get moving in the mornings, it difficult to stay focused on what I am trying to achieve, and its difficult to see other people just getting on with their lives when in many ways I feel so limited. I have so many things that I should feel grateful for, it just seems to hard when there are so many obstacles in the way and waves of difficulty to overcome!
I attempted to run a race to try and make myself feel normal – The actual outcome was physical, mental and emotional pain. The Great North 5K is my favourite race and holds so many happy memories for me. Though my fear now is that, memories are all I am going to have now. Crossing the line I pretty much fell in to a flood of tears when meeting my marathon training partner.
I fly on holiday tomorrow, and due to the punishment that I put myself through attempting to run – I fear I may have ruined it before I even leave the ground! I can hear my physios words in my head – “I told you it was a bad idea!”
Regression – Kirsty Logan, 2019

26th October 2017


Think I am going to christen 2017 the worst year ever. As if my bucket wasn’t already full of enough troubles, I have now been diagnosed with Anaemia! It just keeps getting better! I feel like I just need too lock myself up in a room and not come out, I think it might be safer that way. I now have a schedule of tests that I have to have to try and find out the reason for the anaemia – More hospital visits, my favourite. I have the urge to just disappear somewhere on my own in isolation and cry. I’ve had enough!

I feel like I am in a whirlpool, everything seems to be going wrong! My blood tests are all over the place, and they are getting worse!! My inflammatory markers are now high. No-one seems to be able to explain why this is all happening right now, though I am doing a tour of the hospitals visiting 3 different departments trying to find out what on Earth is wrong with me! This makes me panic, feel anxious I just have this lump in my throat the whole time. My heart hammers, and i’m just so tired. Days are tough and I feel like I am drowning. The only thing keeping me going is my family and Chris.


Strength comes from the Inside – Kirsty Logan, 2019

15th December 2018

I had my first Rheumatology appointment today. It is the first time a clinician has said its OK I can help you, I’m pretty sure I know what is going on. The Doctor asked all of my symptoms and said they are all connected. Turns out there might be an answer after all. He has set up a treatment plan for me. This felt like a turning point. Maybe I can do this maybe there is a way forward. I’m going to have injections into my ankle to help it heal. I can do this.
Confusion – Kirsty Logan, 2019

29th January 2018

I feel so confused. They injections were meant to help, they were meant to make me feel better. The actual procedure other than nearly passing out one injection to the ankle joint was bearable the injection into the plantar fascia, was like standing onto a plug and it breaking through. I’m not allowed to walk on it, but it already feels like the worst ever plantar fascitis. It burns and I feel so emotional about it.
Glimmer of Hope – Kirsty Logan, 2019

11th May 2018

I started doing the couch to 5k last week, and the sessions are going well. I can’t explain how good it feels to run again. My mood has improved . I’m not going to say that it is easy, because it isn’t I am really unfit – but it is freeing to lace up your trainers – I do have to be careful because I get carried away, and it is still painful so I really have to listen to what my body is telling me and back off the pace when I get the signals…. when I say pace I think a turtle could overtake me, BUT this is a massive step.
Levelling – Kirsty Logan, 2019

1st June 2018

I didn’t think I could get so much joy from a days work. A colleague of Chris’s said I could help out taking photos at a wedding, for some experience – I was really nervous and I could feel the anxiety in my throat but it was so good. I felt like a normal person, doing an extraordinary job, its such a privileged to be allowed into someones special day. it also made me hugely appreciative of being able to have my family and Chris around me. One of the brides had lost a lot of family, so when I went home after hearing the stories I gave everyone an extra big hug, I am so much better off than some people and I should be grateful to have most of my important people still here with me. My Grandma would have been so proud of me today.
Letting the Light In – Kirsty Logan, 2019

6th June 2018

Today I received a diagnosis and knowledge that what I have been through in the last year and a half was not in my head – it is an actual condition, and all of the things that I sustained was a disease I couldn’t have done anything about – I have Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis which is the Inflammatory Arthritis Family. It explains things even before my injury – how I struggled to recover after long runs for example. It has made me less angry – as if I hadn’t got injured I could have been struggling without knowing – the anaemia can be caused by the arthritis along with the anxiety and depression. I am going to be receiving medication and support to help me. I can see hope again!
Bubbling Anxiety – Kirsty Logan, 2019

15th June 2018

Today was a bad day. We had some very sad news that my cousin had left us. I hope he found peace at last. I think when things are not expected they hit you harder. It has really put me in a spin, I also felt guilt, should I have done more/ could I have done more? I cried a lot today, it made me anxious and I could feel the bubbles in my throat. I need to stay strong and talk about my feelings. I can’t bottle it up as I want to get through the grief. I’ve been reading about mental health a lot recently, I have recognised in myself that I need to take action to improve my own state of mind. I just need to find what works for me.

Regaining Calmness – Kirsty Logan, 2019

1st January 2019

Yesterday was a really emotional day. I returned to my running group to support my run group leader complete a truly amazing challenge of running a half marathon a week for a whole year. I saw a lot of my running friends many of whom I haven’t seen for a very long time and I cried A LOT. Of what I missed, of who I missed and my longing to get back to them and have my running family back around me. They give me a boost – but my recent flare ups have made this difficult for me. I was so proud of the strength of them, and from my reception, when I am ready I know I still have a place with them. This made me feel vert happy and calming in reflection. Chris and I went into Newcastle and I took some photographs and this made me happy. I have found that the photography process is my calming place, no matter how much pain I am in it is something I can do and it helps.


Light Returning – Kirsty Logan, 2019

12th January 2019

Today I went for a walk in the local woods with my Mam. I felt like a normal human. My pain was on the minimal side, and I applied the practice of mindful/contemplative photography techniques and it was a joy. I felt fully alive not just the shell I have sometimes experienced over the last couple of years. I also achieved some images I was really happy with. I can feel it getting better like when light hits water and you can see it working its way through. After a review with my consultant we can see a 25% improvement in my condition, whilst there is still a way to go and I know not everyday is going to be like this – it felt good. I am on my way back.


Breakthrough – Kirsty Logan, 2019

2nd March 2019.

I am going to be OK.
Over the last couple of months I can sense I am going to be OK, I can see the light in the sky, the sunlight on the waves the glimmering of a hopeful future. It’s been touch and go – there are things that are still going to make me overemotional – The Blue Light Choir singing “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman in Eldon Square raising money for the charity Mind was my latest example of this. I nearly cried right in the middle of the crowd – I thought of my cousin – and then I thought. I am OK, yes I am in pain, but it only proves that I am still here I am still strong and I can use my voice to help others.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me”
This is me – The Greatest Showman – Songwriters Justin Paul/Benj Pasek

Final Major Project – 1:2:1 Tutorial with Wendy McMurdo – 29th January 2019

Summary:

  • Discussed the gallery meeting that I had yesterday and made a provisional booking for.
  • We discussed that a pop up event might be enough – or just the launch event.
  • Instead of doing a live talk – I could have one that is recorded.
  • Some of my close up work is not as strong as the seascapes however once I explained why these images are important I have chosen to re shoot them.
  • I need to have a think about how explicitly I want to talk about my personal issues.
  • My work needs to have beginning and ends/ ebbs and flows.

What I need to do with my work:

  • Get in touch with Digital Lab
  • Think about the type of presentation that I would like to use. My work is almost diaristic I should perhaps present it in this way.
  • Would my work be successful in a website blog type of presentation.
  • I should tell my story

Research to follow up:

  • Pre Raphaelite Art – Melancholic
  • Hamish Boulton, Simon Roberts
  • Watch Francis Alys – Ice Block in Mexico Xity
  • Bobby Baker – Mental Illness and Me

Next Tutorial: Tuesday 12th February

Final Major Project: Gallery Visit

I visited the New Bridge Project in Newcastle to view a space for an exhibition

This is an image of a preivous exhibition in the room I viewed .https://goo.gl/images/KBUWmP

I liked the space a lot but there would not be open access to it. This is something that I find concerning, as I would prefer it being a managed site after the launch event. It also means that I would need to find an alternative site for the workshop as I don’t feel that the site is safe to hold one in, in its current state.

I do have other sites to see.

Final Major Project – 1:2:1 Tutorial with Wendy McMurdo – 22nd January 2019

Summary:

I presented my draft water presentation

Although I have decided not to pursue my Alzheimer’s project it is felt that I should still clearly document it in my CRJ.

What I need to do with my Work:

Contextualisation:

  • How people see water in lots of different ways
  • bodies of water metaphor
  • I need to consider images and text
  • Use Creativity – What do I want to say – Titles
  • Exploration of my own issues is the creativity to explore aspects of the self.
  • Think about the space to just be through photography.
  • For the Falmouth F2F event, get some good prints to show and curate with Wendy

Research to Follow up:

  • Watch Simon Roberts video – vantage points
  • The Pond Moonlight – Edward Steichen
  • Andreas Gursky – River Rhine
  • Jo Spence – Photo-therapy Work – Using Self portraiture
  • Susan Derges – River Taw
  • Hiroshi Sugimoto – Seascapes
  • Roni Horn – Another Water ( Look at the Tate, This project is loaded with important information for me) Water, Bridges, Suicide.
  • Ian McEwan and Robert McFarlane – Writing about water, landscapes and walking
  • Look at the CRJ of previous students to fully understand the presentation of the final outcome
  • Research Workshops looking at collaborative practice.

Next Tutorial: 29th January

Final Major Project – Project Development – 15th January 2019

Mindfulness and Photography: Going with the flow.

Whilst I am not sure if mindfulness is the correct term it was the first steps I took in trying to process what it was that I wanted to look at in terms of mental health and photography in relation to my own experience.

I had been working through social media when I came across an image by a photographer I know who had spent the afternoon learning to capture reflections in water and how refreshed she felt afterwards.

I took this a a cue. As I have previously advised whenever I feel difficulties arising I take myself away to sit beside the water and let the sights and sounds wash over me and wait until I feel better.

I felt this was definitely the way that I needed to take my project and try out capturing the movement of the water as it is this element that I find important and turn it to be creative.

I took the images I had taken during one of my walks and edit them to be a bit more meaningful.

I was very pleased with the outcome and it has given me a really clear route forward.

Not only is this work in development helping me with my own well being, it is also allowing me to reintroduce some of the macro photography that I started my MA journey with. This is a real joy to me.

Final Major Project – Project Development – 11th December 2018

I haven’t done anything photographically recently I have lots to say but my motivation is very low.

In the last month I have looked at the disease that took my Grandma from us – and in my past I have raised money fro this cause to help others.

We lost another family member this year to a different mental illness and it was this moment that made me wonder if it was time to use this project to look at me own illness.

Earlier this year I received my diagnosis – broadly Inflammatory Arthritis more specifically Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. I suffer pain and discomfort and fatigue everyday – but now it has a name.

There are times when the joy gets sucked out of me because I can no longer to the things that I used to do (and the things that I can not at the same level) there are times when even holding a camera is difficult. Along with all of this there are the mental health affects and for me this is the hardest.

I find that when I concentrate on photography whether that is the taking or the editing, it can some times take some of the pain away, the fuzziness doesn’t make my brain feel so sad. Taking the photographs shows me that I can still do something and I would like to think that by taking about these challenges to others that it could maybe help them too.

I want to hold a workshop to talk to others as well as display my images and show the journey is the way that I would like to go.

I have brainstormed some elements that help to describe my feelings:

  • Dead Flowers with the petals missing.
  • RSVP showing non attendance
  • Tablets

I have also been reading a lot about the #VersusArthritis campaign and this has been really been powerful in showing the different ways people are affected by this disease.

Final Major Project: Group Critique with Krishna Sheth 27/11/2018

This was another great opportunity to meet up with my fellow FMP students and Krishna.

I presented the images that I had presented to Wendy earlier that day, with some really great feedback, I was advised that my images were strong. We discussed that I could look at communities were places that i could look to hold my images as my images were held in my local community.

One important point to raise is that we have to know when to stop – both through when to stop taking images, when to stop searching for what our project is and when to stick with what we should be working – and also to stop over analysing

I discussed my aim to have a workshop which was well received. I also explained that it would be on coping and photography.

References to look at:

Celene Marchbank

Bruce Naumen – at Moma

Changing Face – Telegraph Selfie Taking Campaign

Look at the website Fragmentary.Org – http://fragmentary.org/