A GenesisCare UK patient has used her experience undergoing treatment for breast cancer as an inspiration for a collection that forms part of an exhibition currently on display at an art gallery in Salisbury.
Margaret Gill was diagnosed with breast cancer four months ago and has since undergone surgery at Salisbury District Hospital and advanced radiotherapy at GenesisCare UK’s Southampton centre.
Sixty-nine year old Margaret trained as an artist towards the end of a career working as a psycho-sexual doctor. She explains: “I have a particular interest in the relationship between play, psychology, and creativity, and my medical background has left me with an enduring interest in the human body.
“I enjoy abstract work and the use of colour and my work is often triggered by abstract shapes and interesting natural forms around me – I can be inspired at the most unlikely times! The type of radiotherapy I had involved me having scans taken every day before each of my fifteen days of treatment, rather than just one scan in total as with regular radiotherapy. This is so the treatment can be adjusted on a daily basis to ensure precision targeting of the radiation beams.
“I thought these CT scans could be interesting from an artistic point of view. I had a session with the physicist at GenesisCare UK who showed me my scans and made copies of the images that particularly interested me.
“It was really fascinating finding out how the advanced radiotherapy was planned and monitored. I wasn’t familiar with scan images and looking at them was intriguing – a contrasting mix of natural shape and precision technology. I thought ‘they are both me and not me’.”
Rob Chaldecott, the lead physicist at GenesisCare UK in Southampton, said: “It was a pleasure to sit down with Margaret and run through the scans. We’re the back-end of the engine, planning and organising the treatments, so don’t ordinarily spend time with our patients in the way the radiography team does.
“Margaret came in for a couple of sessions during which I explained what she was seeing on the screen, and how the various parts of the images interrelated. We’ve occasionally had patients with a technical interest wanting to come and meet us, but this is the first time someone has had a creative interest, and I’m only too pleased we could help.”
Margaret completed thirteen paintings inspired by her treatment journey. One depicts scars across the image, relating to her surgery; others represent the body’s contact with radiotherapy and how the two connect or are based on her CT scans.
The images make up almost half of Margaret’s exhibition at Studio53, which also shows abstract images taken from the natural world, including rocks and plants.
Margaret added: “It is not uncommon for patients having concentrated and personal care to miss it and feel a bit bereft when treatment stops and the care is no longer in place. I found focusing on my art and preparing for this show helped in an integrative way. It has been a very positive experience.”
Studio53 opened two and a half years ago and holds monthly exhibitions featuring local artists including artists, sculptors, animators, and photographers. The art studio and gallery also run a variety of art classes and workshops.
Margaret Gill’s exhibition, entitled ‘All About Paint’ opened on 5th September, and runs until Sunday 13th.