1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2012 E17 Art Trail?
The work that I’ll be showing is quite unique because I create each piece using my eyes with a Tobii Eyegaze computer. I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), 12 years ago, aged 34. I soon lost the use of my hands and I’m severely disabled now. I’d always enjoyed drawing and painting but never imagined that I would ever create anything again due to my disability. I’ve been using eyegaze technology since 2011 and recently started to create my work using an art software programme called Revelation Natural Art. Painting with my eyes is very different to using my hands and quite slow. However, I love it, and I’m very pleased that Tobii technology has enabled me to express my creativity again.
2. Is this your first time in the Trail or are you an E17 Art Trail veteran?
My E17 Art Trail exhibition is my first and I’m very excited about it! I was born and brought up in East London so I feel like I’m coming home. It feels extremely poignant and right.
3. What are the challenges of getting everything ready for your Art Trail event?
I rely on my carers to help me with everything so preparing for my exhibition is quite a challenge. I’m framing some of my work at the moment and I’m pleased with the results so far. I’m a very organised person so I’m working methodically and know that I’ll be ready by September 1st. That doesn’t stop me from waking up in the middle of the night feeling panic stricken though!
4. Do you remember the first artist that really influenced you? Does that artist’s influence still have an impact on your work?
I’ve been inspired by many artists during my life time. Some of my favourites are Modigliani, Klimt, Picasso and Matisse. I’ve probably been influenced by all of them. The strange thing is that my eyegaze work is very similar to the work I produced with my hands, although the techniques are completely different. I’ve only been eyegaze painting for five months now so feel as if I’m still on a big learning curve.
5. The E17 Art trail has become bigger every year. Do you think it is because more artists are calling it home?
6. What has E17 bestowed on you?
I think that the E17 Art Trail is such a wonderful event and more artists want to exhibit because of that. As I said earlier, I feel that I’m coming home, so I’m sure that others feel the same.
6. What has E17 bestowed on you?
The E17 Art Trail is bestowing several opportunities upon me. I think that an important aspect of my exhibition is that people will see that despite adversity, it is possible to carry on and achieve what you want. Very little is known about my illness and I’ve been actively raising awareness of MND for several years. Hopefully, a few people will learn a little more through my exhibition. I’ve been selling my work online via http://www.eyegazeartists.com/ I’m donating all of the proceeds from my sales to help purchase Tobii eyegaze technology for other people with MND because there is no government funding. I’m hoping that my exhibition will enable me to bestow the gift of speech, communication and independence upon people who desperately need it. The bestow theme is particularly apt for me.