For Parts Not Working

2023 - Ongoing...


In 2018, on a downhill slope, my child put his feet through the spokes of our bicycle, and together we were thrown over the handlebars. My mothering instincts took hold - I wrapped my arms around my baby - taking the impact of the pavement with my head. I woke in a stranger's arms and later learned that my baby came away virtually unscathed.

The hardest part of my recovery was learning to live with a concussion, which came with a temporary inability to talk. Put simply, my brain couldn't process thoughts fast enough to string words together.

As my recovery progressed, I realised I had gained a clear understanding of the way my brain functioned. In particular, I understood where it housed trauma, which was fascinating to me.

Unpacking the case of memories I've kept safely buried deep within my mind and delving into the times I've been broken, 'For Parts Not Working' explores and attempts to visually articulate trauma and related PTSD.

The series of constructed narratives are composed by combining a textile element to represent a hospital vital signs monitor with photography and mixed media techniques, including collage and sculptural work my children made during their early years, through some of our shared lived experiences.

Drawing from my personal health struggles and near-death experiences, this ongoing body of work is created as a tribute to my brain for the effective filing systems it has created to protect me from myself.

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For Parts Not Working  was selected as a winning series and awarded a special distinction as Jurors Pick by Michael Foley in the Lens Culture Emerging Talent Awards, 2023.  He writes why it was chosen ...


'How do we transform our memories of past trauma and its effects into something visual that is relatable to our viewers without weeping self pity onto the paper? 

In Lisa Murray's, For Parts Not Working, a personal mishap acts as an educational tool to explore the function of the brain with all of its potential and limitations. The work blends facts, metaphor and near magical realism with contributions from her children and effective and purposeful mixed media which helps bring the physical part of trauma rushing to the surface.'


Michael Foley

Owner Foley Gallery, United States


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Concussion

There are no thoughts.

Everything’s broken down into an endless array of unformed possibilities.

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Concussion

There are no thoughts.

Everything’s broken down into an endless array of unformed possibilities.

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Notes from ICU

Her voice bellowed and echoed across the room amidst the beeps. My machine's alarm would sound ‘code blue’ and send for the defibrillator whenever she neared. Her tattooed arm outstretched; she would casually toss her colossal ring of keys onto my bed - the weight of them pressing into my body felt like I would be crushed to death.

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Notes from ICU

Her voice bellowed and echoed across the room amidst the beeps. My machine's alarm would sound ‘code blue’ and send for the defibrillator whenever she neared. Her tattooed arm outstretched; she would casually toss her colossal ring of keys onto my bed - the weight of them pressing into my body felt like I would be crushed to death.

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Epipen

The split second near-fatal decision to allow a student nurse to administer life-saving medication.

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Epipen

The split second near-fatal decision to allow a student nurse to administer life-saving medication.

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Anaphylaxis

I’m stuck on the out breath, unable to inhale.

My throat is impossibly tight, and my head begins to swell and thump, as if it's counting the seconds without oxygen.

I disappear, dissociate, and watch the scene from above, as if it doesn’t relate to me.

The thumping in my head becomes a rhythmic dance, pulling me closer to a sense of calm.

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Anaphylaxis

I’m stuck on the out breath, unable to inhale.

My throat is impossibly tight, and my head begins to swell and thump, as if it's counting the seconds without oxygen.

I disappear, dissociate, and watch the scene from above, as if it doesn’t relate to me.

The thumping in my head becomes a rhythmic dance, pulling me closer to a sense of calm.

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Embedded

I cried for an hour after school every day, you say.

One day stands taller than the rest - the day I fell and cut my head open. She said it was because I was 'clumsy' and sat me at the front of the class so everyone could see what a 'cry baby' looked like.

Everyone stared - but I didn't cry.

Three stitches in my head.

Her words embedded in my memory.

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Embedded

I cried for an hour after school every day, you say.

One day stands taller than the rest - the day I fell and cut my head open. She said it was because I was 'clumsy' and sat me at the front of the class so everyone could see what a 'cry baby' looked like.

Everyone stared - but I didn't cry.

Three stitches in my head.

Her words embedded in my memory.

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Fifteen

After I convince you that life is worth living, I incrementally increase the time between calls - a suicide prevention strategy I remembered seeing once. If I can get to an hour, I can prevent it.

but you don't answer.

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The ghost of you tells me she's happier dead, that it's not my fault, that I'd saved you many times before. Life, for you, was an illness which you are free of now.

I dial your number.

Your mother answers.

I hang up.

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Fifteen

After I convince you that life is worth living, I incrementally increase the time between calls - a suicide prevention strategy I remembered seeing once. If I can get to an hour, I can prevent it.

but you don't answer.

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The ghost of you tells me she's happier dead, that it's not my fault, that I'd saved you many times before. Life, for you, was an illness which you are free of now.

I dial your number.

Your mother answers.

I hang up.

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Emotional Baggage

Mostly, nowadays, I can create a great distance between me and the case I’ve learnt to keep tightly shut and buried deep within myself.

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Emotional Baggage

Mostly, nowadays, I can create a great distance between me and the case I’ve learnt to keep tightly shut and buried deep within myself.

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000

It felt more like a hotel than a hospital, and it was a comforting space to wake up in after surgery.

But my heart was racing unevenly, and I was dizzy - a familiar fear.

When staff referred to the manual to perform an Echocardiogram, I knew I was in trouble and dialed 000

I was transferred by ambulance to intensive care where I pushed through some of the hardest days of my life.

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000

It felt more like a hotel than a hospital, and it was a comforting space to wake up in after surgery.

But my heart was racing unevenly, and I was dizzy - a familiar fear.

When staff referred to the manual to perform an Echocardiogram, I knew I was in trouble and dialed 000

I was transferred by ambulance to intensive care where I pushed through some of the hardest days of my life.

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Awake During Surgery

I lay freezing on the cold metal trolley - fixated on the screen journey a small camera was making as it was being threaded through an artery in my neck and recording the journey to my heart.

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Awake During Surgery

I lay freezing on the cold metal trolley - fixated on the screen journey a small camera was making as it was being threaded through an artery in my neck and recording the journey to my heart.

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Stolen

You took it from me here, without my consent, against my will.

I blocked it out, pretended it didn't happen. I told only my sister, sworn to a lifetime of secrecy.

But I remember it—the darkness, the force, the bar which held my position, the blood, the quiet in my head from wherever it was you sent me.

I will always remember it.

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Stolen

You took it from me here, without my consent, against my will.

I blocked it out, pretended it didn't happen. I told only my sister, sworn to a lifetime of secrecy.

But I remember it—the darkness, the force, the bar which held my position, the blood, the quiet in my head from wherever it was you sent me.

I will always remember it.

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Surrogate Baby

And then, in a miracle moment of serendipity your birth mother went into labour as the antidote kicked in and my life was saved.

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Surrogate Baby

And then, in a miracle moment of serendipity your birth mother went into labour as the antidote kicked in and my life was saved.

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Migraine

The slow hours spent before my face was stitched closed, forcing my eyes to open as I vomited my way through a migraine which carried a blinding metallic aura. Withstanding painful minutes by focusing on my breath.

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Migraine

The slow hours spent before my face was stitched closed, forcing my eyes to open as I vomited my way through a migraine which carried a blinding metallic aura. Withstanding painful minutes by focusing on my breath.

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Deep Water

I held tight to your aggressively tense body and looked back, mesmerised by the straight wake line we were creating in the water. I remember the pace the shore was shrinking away.

You spun around so fast I could never have held on, and just like that, you were gone.

I calmly floated to the rhythm of the deep until the sound of an engine broke my breath. Rescued by a stranger only to be placed back in the hands of danger.

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Deep Water

I held tight to your aggressively tense body and looked back, mesmerised by the straight wake line we were creating in the water. I remember the pace the shore was shrinking away.

You spun around so fast I could never have held on, and just like that, you were gone.

I calmly floated to the rhythm of the deep until the sound of an engine broke my breath. Rescued by a stranger only to be placed back in the hands of danger.

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Broken

Unpacking the case of memories I've kept safely buried deep within my mind and delving into the times I've been broken, 'For Parts Not Working' explores and attempts to visually articulate trauma and related PTSD.

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Broken

Unpacking the case of memories I've kept safely buried deep within my mind and delving into the times I've been broken, 'For Parts Not Working' explores and attempts to visually articulate trauma and related PTSD.

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Remember to Forget

Remember to forget everything you've learned up until this point.

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Remember to Forget

Remember to forget everything you've learned up until this point.

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Birth Trauma

Lifted from my body and into the world by your obnoxious hands.

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Birth Trauma

Lifted from my body and into the world by your obnoxious hands.

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The Day She Left Forever

Illuminated by artificial light, her blood divided into clear tubes -each coded by hospital colours - their meaning unbeknown to me. My mother's death on dialysis is perhaps the only vivid image I have in my mind's eye that I never photographed.

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The Day She Left Forever

Illuminated by artificial light, her blood divided into clear tubes -each coded by hospital colours - their meaning unbeknown to me. My mother's death on dialysis is perhaps the only vivid image I have in my mind's eye that I never photographed.

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For Parts Not Working

Unpacking the case of memories I've kept safely buried deep within my mind and delving into the times I've been broken, 'For Parts Not Working' explores and attempts to visually articulate trauma and related PTSD.

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For Parts Not Working

Unpacking the case of memories I've kept safely buried deep within my mind and delving into the times I've been broken, 'For Parts Not Working' explores and attempts to visually articulate trauma and related PTSD.

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