Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Aimee Rondel is a doctor (GP) in New Zealand. She has graciously shared her artwork and answered these questions to help us get to know her better.
Q. How did you get started doing embroidery?
A. Mum taught me to cross stitch age 8. I have always cross stitched/quilted/ knitted etc but this is the first time I have ever tried to make my own design and really embroider as such. I made my first one for a work charity auction and then wanted to make some for myself.
Q. What is the biggest influence on your art?
A. My patients are my inspiration. Most pieces have a particular patient or story in mind when I sew it. I make them as a way to process work stress.
Q. Did art play a role in your childhood? (Were you exposed to artists, did you enjoy making art)
Craft was big in my childhood, rather than art.
A. My father was sick so we stopped doing more active stuff and stayed home.
Q. Who is your favorite artist?
A. Too many to name - I love the pre-Raphaelites (particularly Waterhouse), Frida, Beatrix Potter, E.H. Shepard, Magritte, ohhhh and all the Italian Renaissance painters..... ok sorry I’m not selective.
Q. How does art impact your life?
A. Impact on life- it’s cathartic for work stress. It’s also been an incredibly strong drive/impulse. I started these a year ago and I’ve made about 100 utes and 30 anatomy pieces. I HAVE to make them. I’ve never had such a strong desire to create. It’s wearing off now.... but it was very uncharacteristic while it was there was there. Sorry I misread that.
Art in general gives life its flavour - music, poetry, art etc.
Q. From 9 Year old: When you make your art is it planned or do you just see where it goes? A. When I make my art -
Sometimes I have a really strong idea/ vision. Sometimes just a vague thought which I start and see where it takes me. Often things change half way through and I’ll do something completely different to what I had planned.
I’m not very good at visualizing things so it’s almost planned in words in my head, rather than as an image. I never draw anything out before hand.
Anonymous- “For most of history, anonymous was a woman” - Virginia Woolf.
I don’t generally like explaining my utes as I figure if they need explaining they’re probably not very good.
With this one I was thinking how true the above quote was. So I made this for all the clever scientists, artists, philosophers, writers and explorers who’s names we will never know. We have stood on their backs and I hope that we can stand a little higher for the woman who will stand on ours. So I have themes of prehistory and evolution. The apples are for knowledge, original sin or the patriarchy. Take your pick.
Also, my son wanted mammoths. He has since told me this is the wrong sort of mammoth and he wants a whole one encased in ice.
Transgender- I very much appreciate your thoughts on this one. A very difficult one to conceive as the range of experience is so diverse. One piece is never going to come close to giving the whole picture.
I was inspired by Monica Helms transgender flag a friend had suggested I look at. I read about her reasoning behind it and liked it, so I used her colours to represent the blue and pink stripes of traditional male and female and the undefined uterus in the white. The uterus has little definition so I’m hoping it can work for those who have one but shouldn’t and vice versa. The cherry blossom represents beauty and fragility (as well as looking a little like vulvas) and the foxgloves are a plant that can be both healing or poison (and are undeniably phallic. The meaning in the flowers are not related to their colours.
In the uterus itself I’ve also mixed the white in the leaves with a pale, barely discernible green for growth and new life. As I intend for these all to be viewed as one, I have made this different from the others in that the action is happening outside the uterus rather than inside it.
Uterus Didelphys- I’ve gone for nocturnal pests vs native birds for this one.
Pretty pleased with my animal progress to be honest. Not something I thought I’d be able to do in a recognizable fashion.
Addition - a uterus Didelphys is when there is a failure for the uterus to properly form as it develops in the embryo. The end result is essentially 2 separate wombs, each with their own cervix and sometimes own vagina. This is something women often don’t know they have as it doesn’t really have any symptoms. However you can get pregnant in both uteri at the same time and from my perspective it can make smears a challenge as you want to be careful to get each cervix and not do the same one twice. You’d also need an IUCD in each uterus.
Caesarean Section- I love the philosophy of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold. Honoring and highlighting their history and service rather than throwing it away. I think it’s something I need more of in my life.
So for C-section I have done my Ute up like a broken Victorian blue and white plate (because this is what I grew up with) and have repaired it with gold.
This one is so simple, but I actually really love it and am surprisingly happy with it.
Paget’s disease of the bone or osteitis deformans- This is a bone disease which results in increased bone breakdown then disorganized new growth which can cause fragile and misshapen bones.
Sometimes there are no symptoms, sometimes pain and deformity.
Osteophytes- these are little outgrowths of bone that form around joints with arthritis.
Motor Neuron Disease
All of the above images are copyright Aimee Rondel and shared here with permission.
Try it yourself
Use these printable templates to create your own embroidered anatomy. For younger children I recommend gluing the template to a piece of chipboard or cardboard, cut out and hole punch around the edges for easy lacing cards. Older children can trace the template onto fabric by holding it up or taping it on a window. Add your own details and colors as you go. (If embroidery isn't your thing, decorate these anatomy printables with markers or crayons instead.)