By 27 March 2019

Creating art and drawing were put on pause in 2018. The year was mostly spent working out how to live in the best way possible with a chronic illness. My ME/ chronic fatigue syndrome had slowly been returning from the end of 2015 with a big flare up in symptoms (which means a crippling decrease in energy) at the beginning of 2017.

Ortigia, Sicily

When living with ME/CFS in its more severe form it is hard to find the space in myself to think clearly or have the strength in my arm to hold a pen for more than a few minutes let alone create art. My creativity has shown itself through trying to engineer some normalcy in my life. Artistically cutting and stitching bits of energy for outings here and visits with friends there so I could still feel like me and remember what I love to do. I achieved that and managed to do some truly wonderful things in between the many months in bed.

Sicilian orange, olive and parma ham salad.

My holiday to Sicily was one of the more extreme trips I took that year and I had to get very creative with how I would leave the country and then enjoy myself once there. The gamble paid off and it was a truly beautiful break; the main focus being food and the sun. Staying at La Casa di Pippinito, a small farm, we were fed from the produce growing around us- rich, sweet fruits, earthy vegetables and good Sicilian wine. The b&b is situated near the base of Mount Etna, which you could see looming ghostily above you when you walked to the end of the rows of trees. Ten minutes away from my beloved sea, now supported by craggy, ancient lava not sand, it was the perfect place for us to stay.

As far as inspiration goes, I loved as always the vibrancy of colour that comes so readily in countries with a healthy amount of sun in a year. The citrus orange and yellows associated with Sicily were matched beautifully with navy blue in steep Taormina and the older town of Ortigia had stunning, ancient and cool architecture having escaped the bombings its neighbours endured. My sketchbook was used only for pressing the petals and leaves of all the flowers near our room.

Ancient Greek Theatre, Taormina.


Fish painted on a shutter, Ortigia.

Though still mostly housebound and unable to work I have a little bit more energy and am looking forward to being able to spend some of it on drawing again. I will definitely look back to my holidays last year to support my work. If you would like to learn more about ME/ Chronic fatigue syndrome watch the documentary Unrest on Netflix. 

Sea front, Ortigia.




Read the list of symptoms on the Action for ME website https://www.actionforme.org.uk/what-is-me/introduction/or watch this Ted Talk with the maker of Unrest, Jen Brea.  https://www.ted.com/talks/jen_brea_what_happens_when_you_have_a_disease_doctors_can_t_diagnose?language=en

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