The exhibited body of work was born out of the aftermath and reflections of McDonald’s own experience of caring for her parents, simultaneously diagnosed with cancer and the subsequent death of her father. These works are the physical embodiment of her attempt to unravel and unpick life-changing experiences through an intuitive making process. McDonald attempts to weave together materials which embody the essence of her experience and emotions, primarily the contrasting of feelings of fear and terror with moments of joy and contentment.

In order to truly understand and explore her experience through making, Heather coined the term ‘Reassembling the fragmented body’ to help her physically interpret the work. It has been important to use natural materials and elements which will deteriorate and degrade over time, some of which are derived from once living bodies themselves. The creation of precise voids, channels and cavities within flat planes are reminiscent of surgery, evoking ideas between the boundaries of inside and out. Sections are drawn from one side to another, creating ledges and cells which hang precariously – highlighting the fragile relationship of caring and being cared for. Intricate sewn elements and cast metal pieces adorn the works in different capacities, in areas they can be perceived as invasive components – parasites attached to and weakening the host and in others they are being held and supported tentatively by the surrounding body in a symbiotic relationship, both of which parallel the inherent nature of cancer.


Heather McDonald graduated in 2020 in Sculpture and Environmental Art from Glasgow School of Art. Since graduating, Heather has continued to develop her practice at her studio in Glasgow. In 2020 she received the Dewar Art Award, enabling her to produce this body of work and was selected as part of the 2021/22 Hospitalfield Graduate Programme cohort.