The incredible journey of a Mearns woman battling cancer and her story of how painting helped her find “the way through” has provided the inspiration for her second art exhibition, which opened in Johnshaven last night.
Alison Chandler turned to painting when diagnosed with a rare cancer, creating almost a picture a day as she underwent chemotherapy sessions.
She used her finished pieces to stage her first exhibition which toured the north east last year.
Her story became the focus of film director Tim Langford whose short film, “Painting Myself Brave”, was launched in Johnshaven last March.
It went on to win a gold award at The One Reel Awards film festival in Los Angeles earlier this year.
As she focused on her treatment and recovery, Alison set herself another goal – to walk the El Camino de Santiago in north west Spain for the second time, the first being in 2015, the year before she was diagnosed.
She achieved her dream late last year.
Just as she turned to art to deal with her months of treatment, Alison has drawn on her Spanish walk for inspiration for her second exhibition aptly entitled “The Way Through”.
It reflects her feelings, thoughts and responses to this second pilgrimage
Alison, 61, admitted she became “obsessed” with painting when first diagnosed.
She said: “It really did feel essential, vital in the beginning, to paint. I don’t know how I would have found my way through.”
She is extremely frank in detailing her journey through diagnosis and treatment for abdominal cancer.
“They removed a large part of intestine and I now have an ileostomy. I am very happy to say that as I think it’s very important to normalise this. There are lots of people out there with a colostomy or ileostomy. It didn’t stop me walk 116kms.”
She explained how she picked up the paint brush during treatment.
“I was just sitting there in limbo, in a lot of pain and a lot of fear. I had to get myself through the day. But my story has moved on and I am very lucky to say I have got the all clear.”
Alison’s latest exhibition features 30 paintings, about half of which were painted before she went on her pilgrimage.
She continued: “I didn’t know if I could do the walk in 2018.
“I found the work I did when I came back was more optimistic and happier.
“For my first exhibition I painted images of a wolf, the image for fear, the new image which has appeared is the red fish, an image for joy.”
The exhibition at the Johnshaven Heritage Museum is open every day from 1 to 4pm until April 7.