The landscape of congenital heart disease
The soft echo of visitors’ voices in the tall space, the noise of old wooden choir benches, the intriguing display of white coral-like structures under bell jars, structures that turn out to be hearts with a range of repaired congenital defects. It’s just a pain is a multimedia site-specific installation, created by artist Sofie Layton within the context of the Feel It Festival. The festival is an interdisciplinary exploration of pain and breathlessness and the setting is the striking space of St Paul’s Church in the Georgian Portland Square in Bristol. As part of the event, Layton’s installation in the choir of the church (Figure 1) is a representation of the landscape of congenital heart disease, merging the rigour of medical language and anatomical forms with the story of boy receiving heart transplantation told by his mother in a moving soundscape that visitors can listen to on headphones, sitting in the pews of the choir. It is a delicate piece, in the way in which voices and stories of illness are handled, but powerful in both setting and content.