A Dundee woman living with multiple sclerosis has told of how she has regained her confidence, created her own art works and even travelled to London thanks to a local arts project.
Supported with £9,000 of National Lottery funding, ST/ART@DCA is an arts project, led by Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) in partnership with NHS Tayside, for people with long-term health conditions and forms a substantial part of Dundee Contemporary Art’s (DCA) learning programme for adults.
Lillian Malcolm, 68, is an inspiring example of how you can cope in the face of adversity and find new hobbies, interests and friendships thanks to local community projects and collaborative partnership working.
Lillian said: “I was diagnosed when I was about 26 but I think I can trace some of the symptoms back to my teens. I wasn’t told at 26 that I had MS; I knew it was a neurological condition that I had but I wasn’t actually told until I was 43, by which time I was finding it very difficult to walk and I had to give up work.
“What I really miss is going out every day with a purpose. I was a big achiever before the MS took hold.
“I used to be very good at handwriting but I can’t even sign my name now, so, I didn’t think I’d be able to do any artwork because I can’t use my right hand.
“However, at ST/ART you have a volunteer artist with you for support and you can tell the artist exactly what you want to do. So, it’s all your ideas but they’ll help you do the work that you can’t do by yourself.
“ST/ART gives people the opportunity to feel better about themselves by using art as a form of therapy. I do have more confidence, I’m prepared to do things I haven’t done before and enjoy a sense of achievement – it makes me feel good about myself.”
Since engaging with ST/ART@DCA, Lillian has regained her confidence to an extent that allows her to enjoy a range of experiences, citing a recent trip to London as a particular highlight.
She added: “I was very hesitant about travelling when I got an invitation to go down to London to attend a reception at 10 Downing Street. I don’t think I would have done that if I hadn’t had the confidence to do something that I hadn’t done before, like ST/ART.
“The great achievement of that trip wasn’t going to 10 Downing Street, it was the fact that I managed to get on a train, travel to London, spend a couple of days away from home and come back on the train.
“If I hadn’t been going to these classes, I wouldn’t have managed to do other things in different parts of my life that I’ve gone on to do because it’s given me more confidence. ST/ART not only makes you feel good, it also makes you get out of the house.”
Chris Kelly, Projects Coordinator for THAT, said: “ST/ART is an important part of THAT’s work. The partnership with DCA allows us to bring people with medical impairments into a contemporary art space and provide them with the opportunity to work with professional artists in a high-quality environment.
“Many of our participants feel creatively restricted because of their conditions, so the boost they get from participating in the classes and creating such great work can have a huge impact on their personal wellbeing and confidence.”
More than 7,500 National Lottery grants have been invested into arts, heritage, sport and community projects in Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross since 1994.
To find out more about local projects, like ST/ART@DCA, funded by The National Lottery visit the Good Causes website or follow #ThanksTayYou on social media.