By Simon Tipping


‘I'm not sure if its fear or excitement, but the thought that nothing is going to just drop in your lap. If something good is going to happen I have to get amongst it for it to find me.’

Simon Oldham



The artistic process is about creative enquiry, Simon is an artist with a mission to develop and produce artwork and performances around the theme ‘Me and my cancer’ -a universal story to inform and educate audiences of all ages, taking Simons experiences of the ‘cancer journey’ and linking them with the classic themes of the “Hero’s Journey”.


‘What makes you get out of bed in the mornings? is a piece of work inspired while Simon was participating at Britto International Artist Workshop 2008, Bangladesh. The Bed is also part of an ongoing series of work called ‘Men at work’ that explores themes around the motivations to get out of bed in the mornings, what makes people stay in bed, and the lengths we would go to avoid work in a light hearted way.


‘I never wake up in the morning... I never woke up in my entire life. I am a sleeping beauty with thick lips. So only sleeping makes me get out of the bed every morning.’






Are you free to make that choice?

Unless you suffer from ill health, time in bed is seen as time when we can relax; on holiday, at weekends, having breakfast in bed, reading the newspaper and spending time with our loved ones. These are busy and stressful times many people do not have enough hours in the day to carry out their responsibilities. To lie in bed is a luxury.


What is a Bed?

    1. A place where one may sleep creating feelings of warmth, safety and escapism.
    2. A place to dream. Dreams are your mind's way of exploring ideas, desires and fears that are too abstract, too disturbing or too overwhelming to think about during waking existence.  
    3. Accommodations for a single person at a hospital or institution
    4. A small plot of cultivated or planted land: a flower bed.



Long term ill health affects us in many ways. ‘What makes you get out of bed in the mornings?’ explores the motivation behind getting out of bed. For Simon it is a way to look back over the last 2 years and explore his own motivation to make artwork, to fight depression, to get up and lead a normal life after cancer.


‘Work drives the country and inspires me to provide for those who depend on me. If nothing else that is why I get out of bed as staying in is not an option.’ 





What do you want to achieve no matter how big or small before the end of the day?

Does your belief system help you deal with what life throws at you?

How do you impact on other people lives?

What legacy will you leave behind when you pop-off this green and pleasant land?

All these questions can be summed up into one ‘What makes you get out of bed in the mornings?’ I hope the answers shown in this exhibition along with the artwork go to some way in answering these questions or at least make us think about the question.


‘Mostly it's because I enjoy life and love my children and husband and want to spend time with them, however, short in the mornings.’

Elaine Murphy



Simon’s question has been answered in many different ways and has worked on many different levels. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to answer the question, there has been a lot of thought and feeling put into the replies and Simon feels very honored.


If anyone would like to add their own thoughts to the question ‘What makes you get out of bed in the mornings?’ please send your answers to simon@routecanalarts.org.uk














In June 2006 Simon Tipping was diagnosed with ‘Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma’ and was forced to ‘deal with it’. He had to make many choices in a finite time. He chose to get informed about his cancer, tell people and keep friends, family and work colleagues in the picture. He made plans and reorganized his life before losing control of it to surgery, convalescence, radiotherapy and recovery. 


There is a lot of technical information on the web but very little which deals in a positive and comforting way with the personal perspective. Simon encountered people’s fear of talking about or dealing with cancer. During the whole experience Simon has been keeping visual diaries of his ‘journey’ and of those around him. As an artist on this creative journey, he aims to shed some light on these experiences, issues and also other people’s situations.


Over the last 10 years Simon has been involved with many people in the participatory arts; educating, entertaining, sharing skills and building confidence within the community. He has made costumes, large sculptural structures, ceramic murals and street performances, using themes that involve: our own culture and design, cultures from around the world, history, politics, slavery, myths and stories.