Addiction is a neurological condition with a very human face. Talking about addicts often conjures up images of Amy Winehouse, George Best or that fidgety guy who picks up cigarette ends outside Londis. To Dr Matt Parker of QMUL addiction has a much more fishy face – a zebrafish-y face to be more precise.
Artist Kate Hughes already has a certain level of biomedical experience. In 2010 she painted a series of watercolours based on live open heart surgery. She used the experience as both an exercise in life-drawing as well as taking a more figurative approach. Working with Matt she has taken a similar path using the zebrafish as a literal motif for the more abstract concept of addiction.
Her original pieces juxtaposed the mandatory animal lab overshoes as watery apparitions of fish themselves – Kate’s lively watercolours capturing the fluidity and glimmer of the fish. She also played on the theme of environmental triggers for addiction painting an innocuous looking corner of a quiet, parochial British boozer, with glasses of beer and packets of Rizla subtly interwoven with the fish as triggers.
Thankfully Kate is addiction-free although she freely admitted that “I suspect that if I had an addiction it would probably be gambling… One of those people who spent a lot of money in really small increments… playing bingo online”. She explored this avenue of impulsive behaviour as the theme for her main piece “Lucky Impulse” a watercolour depicting the zebrafish which can be won – simply by purchasing the winning scratchcard. That’s right – an original Art Neuro masterpiece can be yours if you get scratch-happy enough.