‘Sheila Blood and Other Stories’ is a collaborative photo story created in 2018 by Oscar Vinter and Charlie Fitz. It came about as a by-product of working through feelings of powerlessness in the face of ableism. The photo story explores the absurdity of life and injustice at the intersections of race, gender and disability.
If only I were heliotropic
‘This photograph is named after a poem of mine of the same name. Heliotropism is the tendency of living things to grow towards the sun. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but usually a person with SAD suffers with depression in winter, I am affected in summer. Charlie’s illnesses cause her to be heat intolerant and sensitive to light. We are both most content in the long dark evenings of winter.’
‘Charlie and I are both often told by well-meaning family and friends that a nice walk on a summers day will brighten our spirits. We never cease to enjoy the irony in this.
I am now going to close it
‘Trying to access health care has uncanny parallels to navigating public spaces with a wheelchair. We spend a lot of time trying to find accessible entrances and come across a lot of literal dead ends, locked doors, dark alleys...
... Despite remaining ferocious in our pursuit of answers, diagnosis and treatment for Charlie, we would both hesitate to call it a journey, sometimes it feels more like a perpetual drift quite frequently without reward - Kafkaesque, being scurried from one doctor to another and back again. Absurdity at every turn. “We think neurology should really take the lead” says the Rheumatologist. “Well, we have to wait for what Rheumatology decides” says the Neurologist. But all I can hear is Kafka again and again; “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”’
‘My photographs attempt to dissect the silent screams of certain encounters we have in the healthcare system and wider lives. Photography is part of a wider network of coping mechanisms mainly rooted in art. It helps me like magnesium baths help Charlie.’
‘These photos are not documents of reality but necessities, they help me cope.’
To burn blue, once more with you
‘I often see Charlie’s body mapped out in architecture and other objects – her body parts and medical conditions writ large throughout the city - a spinal cord reaching upwards illuminated in neon blue or her herniated brain glimpsed at through the cracked bricks of the town hall. It’s like that moment after being told a secret, the world can never look the same again.’
Honey, it's my hindbrain
‘The photo ‘Shelia Blood’ is a quasi portrait. The name has become a sort of moniker for Charlie. Last year whilst in a hospital waiting area a nurse shouted, “Shelia Blood?! Shelia Blood?!” every ten minutes for 2 hours without an answer. Each time she repeated the call it sounded more surreal and Charlie and I found it a little more difficult to contain our laughter. As the nurse continued unanswered, we had become the spectacle of the waiting room. I see these moments when we find the comedy in the absurd as cathartic.’