Male Cancers

Everyman's mission is to stamp out testicular and prostate cancer. They can achieve this by making everyone recognise the tell-tale signs, and understand the importance of treating them. Everyman also has some of the best scientists in the world doing vital research into prostate and testicular cancer.

After a long battle with prostate cancer my father, James Stoddart McCartney, died on August 22, 2008. Although I had already cast his head two years earlier, during happier times, I didn't know whether I could or should do this piece. The decision to proceed with the project was only reached after much soul-searching. I had already committed to donate a piece to the Everyman charity art auction and this somehow seemed to be the right piece.

Casting his dead head at the funeral parlour was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I still don't know whether it was the right thing to do. Seeing him at peace after such distress was a good thing but his stiff, ice cold, skeletal body was a tough thing to see and handle. Hats off to Arka funeral services who went out of the way to make the whole thing possible.

In artistic terms the work explores the relationship with my father, along with my feelings towards death and the living. The death mask was cast in jet-black bitumen and placed on a while pillow. The presentation is meant to be reminiscent of ancient tomb sculpture and traditional death masks but with a more graphic representation.