‘I don’t have a lot of use of my left arm. I used to be able to paint and draw with either arm; now I just paint with my right arm and rest it on my wheelchair. I’ve had to buy an electric easel that can go up and down that can compensate for the limited range of movement in my right arm. I’m in a wheelchair that also raises and lowers itself.
‘With my paintings I wanted to explore the theme of the loss of identity that comes with disability. I was a really physically active person. I rode motorbikes, I sailed and played sport. As I’ve become disabled, the things that I loved doing, that made up who I was, have fractured off and splintered away from my life and I can’t do those anymore. In their place are all these other things like the day to day chores of disability, of dealing with bureaucracy and this whole myriad of things that make up disability. I’ve represented that with figures in the paintings that are fractured and disintegrating and that are in vulnerable and contemplative positions. I’ve tried to capture the essence of living with a disability.
‘For me, I have to spend a lot of time, in a meditative kind of state keeping it together and putting things in perspective – taking the things that upset you and stress you out and think them through until their relevance dissipates. That’s what some of the paintings and some of the figures are about. Some of it’s about having fun painting and enjoying paint and colour.
‘With disability, you lose parts of yourself. I really miss being able to drive a car, work on cars and ride motorbikes and all of that. If you don’t actively replace those things with something constructive, it all gets taken over simply with disability and stuff. Art has become the thing that fills that void and the thing that replaces all those fractured pieces. I think it’s the art that holds me together a bit – sort of like the glue at the end of the day.’