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Multiple sclerosis: Painting is a 'distraction' from pain for Beds and Northants group

By Alex Pope
BBC News Online

image copyrightHannah Clayson
image captionHannah Clayson said painting showed how she feels as she was diagnosed the day before her 25th birthday

Women living with multiple sclerosis (MS) say they have discovered art is "a distraction technique" that means they are in control of a painful condition.

Members of the MS Therapy Centre Beds and Northants said painting helped them cope with symptoms and "uplift" them.

Hannah Clayson, 32, from Northampton said art was a way of representing her "frustrations, confusion and anger" after being diagnosed aged 24.

The Bedford-based charity said it aimed to improve wellbeing and mental health.

MS is a neurological condition which affects the brain and spinal cord and can lead to serious disability.

image copyrightHannah Clayson
image captionHannah Clayson painted A Splatters Decode seven years ago and her work is "just for me" she said

Miss Clayson said she painted to show the "chaos" of her symptoms and it "represents my frustrations, confusion, anger of being diagnosed, and entering the unknown".

"It is a massive distraction that has given me confidence."

image copyrightMandy Knight
image captionMandy Knight is an amateur abstract artist who said she had loved art since childhood

Mandy Knight, 59, from Rushden, Northamptonshire, was diagnosed in 2000 and her symptoms include mobility problems, numbness and peripheral nerve pain.

"Painting is a form of distraction technique. I'm fine if I'm working but when I stop, the pain kicks in.

"Working with colours is so absorbing - your brain doesn't have space to take anything else on.

"It won't take the pain away, but it definitely uplifts and gives positivity of mind."

image copyrightMandy Knight
image captionMandy Knight creates acrylic fluid art, as a way of bringing upliftment, colour therapy benefits and a sense of achievement

Sally Morris, 71, from Ampthill, Bedfordshire, was diagnosed in 1994 and at times is unable to move.

"With art, you are in control. If you are tired, you can go back to it," she said.

"It is mind over matter, it makes you believe - I don't want to give in."

image copyrightSally Morris
image captionSally Morris went to art school in Luton in 1965 and uses oils and acrylics to paint landscapes and seascapes

Dr Kay Taylor, chairwoman of the centre's trustees, said: "When we ran an art exhibition last year it made us realise how our community is interested in art and use it as a therapy for their wellbeing and mental health.

"This has continued with an art sale, that many of our members have donated work to, to generate funds and awareness of the condition and the therapies available at our centre."

image copyrightMichael Abbott
image captionEighty artists donated about 200 pieces of post-card art on sale for £20 each to raise funds including work by Michael Abbott, who also has MS

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Related Topics

  • Bedford
  • Ampthill
  • Northampton
  • Art
  • Luton
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Rushden

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