My name is Gemma Spry, and I am a contemporary artist due to embark this October on a Masters of Fine Art Degree at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University. Since the age of 12 years old, I have suffered from a rare and chronic form of an auto-immune disease called Behcet's Syndrome. This is a multi-system disease causing a range of painful and debilitating symptoms. Only 2000 people in the UK are thought to suffer from it.
Thankfully, at 24 my disease is now relatively well controlled. Presently, Behcet's is defining my life in a much more positive way: I am now able to use the disease as a tool to explore the fascinating genealogical journey this rare condition has taken, and the subsequent themes this migration uncovers.
Also known as the Silk Road disease, I began to explore the geneological journey between this ancient trade route and the Diary Farm in Devon where my family has resided for the last 200 years. In trying to connect these two seemingly disparate times and places, I came across a symbol which for me embodies the journey of Behcet's Syndrome: The Three Hares. My research and artwork utilises the Three Hares symbol – much like a Trojan horse – to explore the genealogical transition of Behçets Syndrome. In doing so, I am both self-historicising, and entering into a broader study of the migration of peoples, religion, and ideas.
Through my childhood, art was my therapy. After fighting the disease through my education, I went on to gain a First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art. Now, after a couple of years taken out of education to work at a children's charity, I have been given a tremendous opportunity to progress my artwork at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University. This is a fantastic chance not just to bring awareness of the disease itself, but how the inception of such a rare disease is intertwined within a much broader study of the migration of peoples, religion, and ideas. Through this course at the University of Oxford, I hope to bring Behcet's Syndrome to the centre stage of contemporary art and academia through engaging and original artworks. If you would like learn more on my work, then please visit my website: www.threeharesconstellation.com
Sadly, postgraduate study is not entirely affordable. In order for me to pursue this venture, I am seeking alternative modes of funding to help make this dream a reality. Any funds will help pay for the university's tuition fees, living expenses, and materials for sculptures and installations.
I would be extremely grateful for any contribution to this project.