In the backstreets of London’s east end, an Australian amputee is hard at work putting together an exhibition of prosthetic limbs which have been turned into wacky pieces of artwork.
Spare Parts is curated by Priscilla Sutton and is being staged to coincide with the London 2012 Paralympic Games next week.
She got the idea for Spare Parts when cleaning out her home in Brisbane and wondering what to do with her old spare legs.
“I guess the idea came from me wanting to still keep my legs but not keep them in the cupboard,” she said.
Sutton approached her creative friends to turn them into artwork so she could hang them on her wall.
Then she wondered about the other spare arms and legs living in people’s cupboards around the world.
“I thought if I have just a few legs in a few years imagine how many legs and arms and other things there are in cupboards around the world just waiting for a second chance...and Spare Parts was born.”
Sutton had elective surgery to remove her right leg below the knee in 2005 due to a worsening bone condition.
She now uses the Spare Parts exhibition to overcome taboos about false limbs arguing: “Amputees are not scary, we are just everyday people.”
“When you see someone walking along the street with a prosthetic leg, don't be afraid and don’t think they are strange and hide your children from them,” she said.
“It's really amazing that there is such a taboo around prosthetics and I just want people to be able to come here and see them up close and have a good look and talk about it,” she added.
Also part of the Spare Parts exhibition is work by prosthetic limb maker and designer, Sophie de Oliveira Barata. She started out making realistic limbs and then she wondered if amputees would perhaps prefer to sometimes stand out rather than trying to blend in.
“I am not an amputee so I thought maybe that’s not very sensitive of me, so I approached some amputees to kind of bounce of some ideas and yeah, they were just really up for it,” she said.
Her bespoke designs range from floral to punk rock and make the wearer stand out in a crowd.
“I worked with a few amputees and we came up with some designs and took it from there. This whole project is showing that they’ve had some really good reactions and they have really enjoyed wearing these more interesting and colorful limbs,” she said.
Spare Parts opens its door to the public on Saturday (August 25) and will run throughout the Paralympic Games (August 29-September 9).
The Paralympics are proving extremely popular in Britain, with tickets sold out - something that has never happened before.
“It's so inspirational for everyday people as well as amputees to see these Paralympians out there and I do think that this Paralympics in particular has just been so well accepted by society,” said Sutton.
“Everyone is excited and buying tickets and just can’t wait to get along and see it, so I think for the first time ever the Paralympics are just as exciting as the Olympics.”