Tracy Sorensen

Listen to your body (2020)

Crocheted wool and acrylic yarn, approx. 40cm x 26cm x 10cm.

In 2014, when I was diagnosed with Stage 3C primary peritoneal cancer, I picked up my crochet hook. I created a set of abdominal organs, soft and three dimensional, along with two pom-poms tumours. The task was both informative (I had to learn a lot about their morphology to crochet each organ) and relaxing. It made it easier for me to talk about my illness to friends and family. A year later, in remission, I began a PhD researching climate change communication. My questions included: How might my recent experiences with crochet – as process, as well as finished object – help me as I try to communicate with others about climate change? Both cancer and climate change involve communicating information that is terrifying and scientifically dense. Both cancer and climate change are shrouded in quackery and denial. Crochet helped me with one; might it help with the other? This work represents an evolution from those original crocheted organs to a new set to be displayed on a bed of bleached corals, thus making explicit a link between cancer and climate change. White areas on the organs – “bleaching” – correspond to parts of my organs directly affected by cancerous tumours. This time I represented my tumours as crown of thorns starfish. These coral-eating starfish are now proliferating on dying reefs. My crochet gives voice to the more-than-human world, while creating whimsical and engaging images. Wellness warriors often encourage us to listen to our bodies. For me, the more-than-human world beyond my skin is also my own body: the structure and support for my life and that of fellow creatures.

Tracy Sorensen is the 2020 Judy Harris Writer in Residence at the Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney and a PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst. Her debut novel, The Lucky Galah, was long-listed for the 2019 Miles Franklin Award.


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