From the October issue of The ME Association’s quarterly magazine, ME Essential, published this weekend.
An artist, poet and teacher who went down with ME has opened an online art gallery to show his work.
Steve Craig – who used be a tutor on The ME Association’s lay-led Living Well management programme – has harnessed modern technology to the business of getting his work recognised.
And he’s urging other artists, who like him have difficulty in finding exhibition space at rents they can afford, to apply to hang their pictures in his bit of cyberspace.
“Someone gave me the website as a present, and it was a revelation getting it ready for the launch, and thoroughly enjoyable”, said Steve, who lives in Bounds Green, North London, with his grown-up family.
Before he became ill, he was a deputy head teacher and had spent 34 years in paid and voluntary youth work and education.
He was a hillwalker and several of his glorious paintings of scenes in Snowdonia grace the new gallery. There is also a range of sharp, edgy and tortured images that depict his life with ME.
“The thing about the ME work is that it is a bit too in your face for many buyers. I could understand them not wanting to look at them every day on their lounge walls”, said Steve, who last taught in a school room 10 years ago.
“But I’ve painted all sorts of subjects, some of them far more marketable, and they’re in the gallery”.
Instructions about how other artists can join him in the new space are on the website.
Steve joined Andy Shea in running The MEA’s ‘Living Well’ programme in the 90s This was before it was overrun by the Department of Health’s Expert Patient Programme.
“I was in one of the first cohorts to be trained in tutoring on the programme by Jean Simmonds at Arthritis Care.
“It was an exciting time to be helping people with long-term conditions manage their illnesses better.
“The thing about it was that it was lay-led and very personal, and it was run by people who knew about ME”.