Excerpt from my Artist Statement
by Josh Philpott, 3.49am May 10th 2022
I work across sculpture, drawing, poetry, and sound art. My main interests include psychogeography, absurdism, and midwestern-emo […] My practice emerges from a litany of aesthetic and experiential references which are unconsciously reflected in my work, such as life-long chronic illness. I have Cystic Fibrosis which limits my energy and time and forces extreme discernment of what I can make. A normal day for me would start with a twenty minute coughing fit triggered by sitting up in bed. Doubled over, hacking and convulsing violently I would heave fistfuls of sticky, green, gelatinous phlegm up my windpipe and into a small plastic cup clasped with both hands. It’s like having lungs full of wallpaper paste. Your chest itches from the inside as your body tries to expel it but it clings to the sides of your windpipe and soon you’re sweating and breathless and exhausted and you don’t have the strength to cough any more so you sit and wait for one more slimy lump to drip from your mouth and then swallow the rest back down so you can breathe again and recover. My nose and sinuses would be stuffed full of wet mucus and crusty snot and grape-sized polyps, leaving me with no smell and a sandpaper dry tongue from constant open-mouth breathing. Piping hot black coffee would be the remedy, alongside a bowl of cereal and a calorie shake and an insulin injection and nebulised medicine and eleven of my daily twenty-five-odd tablets for breakfast, followed by physiotherapy of shaking my lungs to loosen the phlegm, and nebulised antibiotics. Then lunch time, where I’d have to take enzymes with everything I ate so I could digest it without immediately shitting it out, and also take insulin with everything I ate and a different long-acting insulin once a day because I’m diabetic too. After pooing oily, sticky, chunky logs – usually ranging from a four to a six on the Bristol Stool Chart – for forty-five minutes to ease my bowel ache, I’d sometimes have to use a length of dowel to chop up the poo so the logs wouldn’t smush into a blockage on the way down. Back in bed, I’d have to lie in a position that wouldn’t aggravate my chest and ignite more coughing fits, like if I laid an arm across my front. Thankfully, this last year I’ve been fortunate to benefit from a drug called Kaftrio which thins my mucus, thereby solving most lung and sinus problems. I’ve still had to shield at my mum’s during the Covid-19 pandemic, so swings and roundabouts […] I don’t make paintings or sculptures from my evacuated viscera, as each expulsion is already an artwork, precious unto itself. I graduated from Camberwell College of Art and have exhibited widely.