Museum of Lost Childhood

  • J Whitehead
The Museum of Lost Childhood was a piece I created in response to my emotions toward my body failing me. As a child, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, the treatment for which took a toll on my body and mental health. As an adult, I am still coming to terms with what happened to me as well as dealing with the late effects of the treatment I went through. I wanted to create a performative piece about what I went through and the feelings I am still going through so collated objects and paperwork from my time in hospital and relating to my more recent diagnoses in order to create a space that demonstrated that difficult period in my life and would give the viewer a similar sense of overwhelm that I have been feeling. I wanted to make this piece interactive and accessible to others so focused on the theme of loss in response to my lost childhood, lost hair and lost time. I took a quote from Malcom X which states “every loss contains its own seed” and decided to create my own paper containing seeds for plants that represent hope, new life and companionship. I then asked people to come and experience the space and write about their own losses on this seeded paper, trading their loss for a small vial of the hair that I lost from my first round of chemotherapy that I had kept. It was extremely emotional for everyone involved but it made for a therapeutic experience, many of the participants wishing to share extremely personal and even traumatic stories of loss with me, a total stranger.