Cumbria

Artist in isolation helps students around the world in lockdown

Eastcote Lite, Skinburness in pastels Image copyright Emma Hunt/ Gordon Akitt
Image caption Lockdown artist Emma Hunt said she had been "moved" to be told she had helped students around the world to cope with lockdown

A pastel painter who turned to art to wean herself off painkillers has been helping others cope with lockdown around the world while raising money for the NHS.

Emma Hunt, 45, from Egremont, has a heart and lung condition which has forced her to self-isolate.

For 13 weeks she has been running live lessons for hundreds of students including in Turkey and Canada.

She said she was "moved" to be told she had helped them cope with lockdown.

Image copyright Emma Hunt
Image caption This painting of Bassenthwaite near Keswick took artist Emma Hunt just 20 minutes to complete

Miss Hunt also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a painful condition which affects her joints.

She had to give up her job as a radiochemical analyst at Sellafield nuclear site and became dependent on painkillers, until last November when she weaned herself off them and began to paint.

'Real leveller'

Miss Hunt auctioned off her paintings and raised more than £800 for personal protective equipment for medical teams and district nursing staff in Cumbria.

She said she had been "humbled" that some of her beginners had progressed so much that they had been selling their paintings.

"Art is a real leveller, it's been very good for my mental health too," Miss Hunt said.

Image copyright Kirsten Thompson
Image caption Let your troubles float away by NHS worker Kirsten Thompson who says knowing the sun will always rise despite the "horrible" virus, keeps her going
Image copyright Lorraine Alfaro
Image caption Beginner Lorraine Alfaro says "it doesn't matter" if her paintings are no good and that art makes her feel "positive"

NHS worker Kirsten Thompson, from near Silloth in Cumbria, said the hours and days were "merging into one" before she joined the classes.

'Work, home, repeat'

She said: "The art classes started to bring back the week days. They became Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday again, not just get up work, come home, repeat.

"My paintings sum up lockdown, the sun will go down, but the next day it will rise again."

Image copyright Emma Hunt
Image caption "Art takes you away from pain or worry and helps ease depression", Ms Hunt says

Pupil Lorraine Alfaro was inspired to do a painting of a sunrise at Catbells fell in Keswick in the Lake District.

She said: "It doesn't matter if I am any good or not - lockdown classes have filled my head with positivity."

Image copyright Emma Hunt
Image caption Artist Emma Hunt has raised more than £800 to donate to front-line NHS staff by auctioning paintings

Ms Hunt is also running a lockdown painting competition for her students to raise money for the NHS and the closing date is 11 July.

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