Parkinson's UK Oxford Branch Parkinson's UK, our parent charity

July 2019

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Picturing Parkinson's Art Workshop

 Jenyth Worsley

Eight of us took part in this workshop on June 10th at the John Radcliffe Hospital organised by Professor Chrystalina Antoniades and led by Jan Sargeant who herself has Parkinson’s.

Jan opened the first session to explain that she had no formal training as an artist (unlike her husband Ted, an art teacher). She just took up a brush and started.

She went on to talk about her relationship with Parkinson’s as depicted in two of her paintings. Woman with Stick showed Jan’s suffering at its most intense, whereas the moving lines of Dance with Me were in flowing contrast.

Dance the long slow dance, the Parkinson’s shuffle.

Sweep your arms in an arc of tremoring abandon.

Lift your hands in a plea for balance, denied now,

swallow the meds in rhythm with the orchestra

as it plays its tuneless chords against

memories of how things once were.

Set aside your shame as saliva drools

From a mouth you hadn’t known was open.

Nod in understanding as if you follow

The trains of conversation and laugh when

others do. They’ll think you are following it all,

Until you struggle up from your chair.

In pain, stiff with anger at your limbs,

And haul them and your sadness away

To a place

Where no one can hear you scream.

Jan Sargeant

We discussed in small groups what Parkinson’s meant to us before we were all handed paper, brushes and paints, and a glass of water to wash the brushes. Then we picked up our brushes and the imagination was let loose! Among the artistry was pointillism, surrealism, cubism, wide stripes of colour and beautiful washes which I envied, having tried to dilute the blue paint sufficiently to do sky and foam for my waterfall.

Among the most outstanding was Sally Bromley’s daemon which she says sits on her shoulder, with a soft pointed face and ears like a cat or fox.

Altogether it was an interesting and fruitful day and I came away wondering which daemon was sitting on my shoulder! Was it the chap falling from the waterfall?

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