Family, Friendships And Pirates Inspire Lauren To Exhibit ‘Disability In Illustration’
Cardiff Metropolitan University Illustration student Lauren Evans has based her final year collection on her younger disabled sister’s passion for pirates as well as depicting her and her friends in classic Renaissance portraits.
The pretty, whimsical storybook illustrations are a favourite with her sister Chloe, 17, who is also the inspiration behind a charity project Lauren completed during her first year with the Friends of PICU (the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Southampton General Hospital.)
Chloe, who has learning difficulties and sensory processing disorder, was treated there for a severe case of pneumonia over Christmas 2013.
Last March Lauren created a series of mixed media illustrations of Chloe going on a series of adventures with an elephant, which is the PICU charity’s mascot.
These were inspired by Chloe’s ideas and stories and will be sold as prints as a fundraiser for the charity with posters of the project on display in the Paediatric Unit.
Lauren says: “Chloe’s pneumonia was life threatening at the time because of her weakened immune system and epilepsy. She had to be put into an induced coma because she did not understand what was happening and would try to take her mask off and all those other bits, so it was very serious.”
Lauren’s final degree show, ‘Disability in Illustration,’ which was part of Cardiff School of Art and Design’s Summer Show features ‘Storybooks,’ a book featuring two stories which she has created because she feels that although children with physical disabilities are becoming more ‘visible’ those like Chloe, who have severe learning difficulties are not.
Lauren worked with stories told by Chloe’s school and college mates, with the idea of developing role models –and a pirate villain – for children with learning difficulties.
She said: “Seeing my work on display makes me feel proud of myself and of Chloe, because it’s the only ‘work’ she’s been able to really have a part in so far because she’s never had the opportunity to do something like this before.
“It makes me feel good that we’re showing the art community and the rest of the world that people with disabilities can be a part of their work and that their ideas are so creative and original.”
Lauren’s Summer Show work also features ‘Portraits,’ which is a series of hyper-realistic Baroque portraits of Chloe and her friends, based on renaissance paintings.
Lauren said: “I wanted to include more individuals in this project because everyone’s disabilities or learning difficulties are so profoundly unique from one another.
“This part of the project is a series of eight portraits which portray young people with disabilities in a way that celebrates them, in the same way that people without disabilities have been celebrated.
“They’ve never been included in any major art movements, mainly because they were hidden away or they did not survive. This echoes my ‘Storybooks’ project, by giving them the platform they need to be recognised in the art world, and painting them as their own role models.”
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