Art for All: My Story

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Posted 9th December 2019

Art for All: My Story

Julia from Godalming

My life turned upside down in September 2018, when I discovered the headaches that had been eluding doctors for many months were actually caused by large mass on my brain. Within hours of the MRI, my husband was told to pack an overnight bag – 'enough for 3 days at least' – and I was sent by ambulance to St Georges Hospital in Tooting: blue lights, sirens, the works. I wasn't allowed home and in fact, was not even allowed to walk up to the ward.

The day before we had celebrated our wedding anniversary with a family day out to Longleat and I was blissfully unaware of the drama that was about to unfold.

My brilliant brain surgeon removed the meningioma, 'about the size of his fist' he proudly informed me in a 6-hour craniotomy just 3 days later. I was home within a week. His job was done but my journey of recovery had barely begun. I couldn't taste food and had numbness in my right limbs. The first month passed in a fog of visitors and sleep. After which I emerged slightly befuddled and bewildered. I needed to find me again.

A friend of mine was enrolled in the Art for All programme at St Marks and had said how much she enjoyed the sessions and suggested I come along. In January when the new term started I was able to join. It was just what I needed. The brain tumour had been quietly growing inside my head for so many years, zapping my energy and enthusiasm for life. I no longer knew who I was. I functioned purely on a day to day level of getting my daughter to school and putting dinner on the table in the evening. I needed to discover a passion and a love for life once more.

Art for All enabled me to do that. From heat printing aprons to lino prints, I found Mary Watts to be a particular inspiration and enjoyed putting my own stamp on her style. Experimenting with new crafts and skills was just the tonic, allowing me to express myself through art and try to take stock of everything. The opening sessions around sewing machines have been particularly useful. I'd inherited an old machine from my Nan (an excellent seamstress) but never even understood how to thread the needle… since the course though, I have been able to make aprons for my daughter, a swaddling wrap for my new great nephew and bunting for our camping trip. The world looks better with bunting!

As I write this I am 2 weeks away from my 1st Cranniversary and feel now that I am starting to get my life back on track. I cannot express how much gratitude I have to Ellen, Carol and the Art for All programme in helping me through the most dramatic event in my life.

You can support our Art for All learning programme this Christmas by donating to our Big Give Christmas Challenge until 12pm Tuesday 10 December. Click here to find out more.