In 2017, after more than a year of experiencing a variety of weird symptoms, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease….devastating news for someone who has spent much of her life in the pursuit of physical adventure! Whilst the medical profession like to reassure you that it won’t kill you (although I question the validity of that statement!) Parkinson’s is a progressive disease with currently, no cure.
I was told to expect 5 good years and to follow a “use or it or lose” it approach. This meant exercise and lots of it. ‘That’s fine, I can do that’ I thought. However there was one part of my body that your normal types of exercise wasn’t reaching and I was referred to a physiotherapist to help improve the dexterity in my right hand. Mindfulness Colouring was what the physio suggested as a means to helping improve fine-motor control, so I bought a book. I was a primary school teacher so I’m well aware of the benefits of ‘colouring in’ both physical and therapeutic but it wasn’t for me. I was frustrated and bored and I started doodling instead. Soon the doodling lead to drawing and the drawing lead to painting …..and I realised I had discovered something far more important than just another form of physiotherapy.
Creating artwork has been the perfect vehicle for helping me come to terms with having Parkinson’s disease. It enables me to work through my stresses, let off steam and express how I am feeling. It has also taken me on an incredible journey. Since I first picked up a pencil in 2017 I have used my art to raise over £2000 for Parkinson’s UK, I have been commissioned by Parkinson’s Art to contribute a piece for their VIVID exhibition at the OXO Gallery and I was recently commissioned by Charles River Laboratories to paint a giant hare for Leuchie House as part of their Big Hare Trail in East Lothian. This August will be my first solo exhibition at The Barefoot Sanctuary in North Berwick during the “Fringe by the Sea” Festival.