Molly Bonnell is a multidisciplinary designer interested in the complex relationship between the human body and the systems we’ve constructed to maintain it. Currently based in London, she has just completed an MA in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins where her graduation project, The Ritual of Prescription explores the relationship between humans and medicine.

Fascinated by medicine and health, her practice takes a critical and research-based approach to reconsider the ways in which we care for ourselves and others. By attempting to understand these relationships, Molly feels there is an opportunity to authentically and empathetically design towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Can the aesthetics of care act as a tool to reconsider medical routines in isolation?

Healthcare is a human right. Access to the systems that provide this care is essential. However, it often takes a crisis to exacerbate underlying cracks within the system, particularly the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

On 21 March 2020, the NHS mailed letters to 1.5 million people in the UK deemed ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, advising them to practice shielding measures in order to protect themselves from Covid-19. This group was identified based on specific medical conditions that place someone at greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19. On this list of conditions was Cystic Fibrosis, a disease I have lived with my entire life.

For the first time, many are confronted by the reality of their own medical vulnerability. Doctors exist at a distance through a screen, and individuals are now solely responsible for their health, obsessing over the minutiae of their daily care. The mundane routines of healthcare at home have been elevated to the priority event of daily life.

People are thinking about their own health more than ever and the NHS is regarded with almost religious reverence. However, there is simultaneously a lack of understanding of healthcare as we constantly, without a second thought, transform our bodies through medicine.

Relying on domestic materials, such as sugar, I have produced a series of speculative objects that amplify my personal healthcare rituals during this period of isolation with the aim to counter the current over-medicalisation of healthcare and encourage a hypersensitivity to the ways we interact with and care for our bodies.

By crafting new and unfamiliar medical routines, such as taking prescription medicine, this project questions the individual and societal value placed on health and the systems that support it. Ultimately, it is also a reflection on the nature of medicine itself and its relationship to human ritual.