Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pain and Alice's 'Shrinking World'

Chia Moan, one of the artists who is helping in this year's campaign has created an artwork - an installation called Shrinking World.

In this scene Alice has taken a pill that makes her grow and grow, finally pressing her head against the ceiling to prevent her neck being broken. She is trapped inside the house of the White Rabbit. Cramped and desperate though she is, underneath, Alice's experience is that reality is constantly being transformed.

Chia says her art is inspired by conversations with pain patients, one in particular, who said she felt like Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole with the aperture at the top growing smaller and smaller.

People who live with chronic pain deal very literally with shrinking options in their lives. If and how I can work, exercise, socialise, travel? Usual activities are affected, all subjected to scrutiny: what is possible, what is not? They also speak frequently about not being able to communicate their pain, wearing a mask.

Likewise many people move through and with their pain to re-cast reality in amazing ways with imagination and determination.


  1. my husband suffers from constant lower back pain for the last 12 years or so...its almost like a stigma...moreso because men never talk about such things among themselves or with others.
    As a family we often have to think several times before deciding on simple fun activities like long weekend drives, outdoor activities with the kids..even our private life is affected.

  2. any suggestions on how i can sensitise colleagues at workplace about my chronic pain without coming across as sympathy seeker (or repeat offender! because i come in late frequently)? I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and apart from prescription medicines, i also follow exercise therapy. But the pain is often bad in the mornings and i receive very little or no understanding from my colleagues and boss

  3. lovely photograph by the way and very pertinent too!

  4. It may help you to read 'Manage your Pain' by Michael Nicholas et al. There is a very helpful chapter on communication. Also the ADAPT program at Royal North Shore hospital is excellent in giving you tools to better manage your pain and also to communicate it to family, friends and colleagues.

  5. This installation is so compelling in the way it captures the frustration associated with the shrinking world associated with chronic pain. However the window could symbolise the many opportunities available to better manage pain. Also the opportunities to increase quality of life by exploring new activities and interests that are physically possible.