Parkinson’s artist produces exhibition fit for a Princess
An inspirational artist who has used her experience of Parkinson’s disease to shape her work has shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on a Royal engagement to focus on the positives of a new exhibition at Leuchie House, Scotland’s National Respite Centre.
Ali Blevins, from North Berwick, had been due to discuss her collection of art with HRH The Princess Royal at the charity’s birthday celebrations, only for Covid to force her to stay at home and miss out on her special day.
However, Ali is pleased Princess Anne got to see her work adorning the building’s impressive Aviemore Lounge and is delighted that people with neurological conditions who come to stay at Leuchie this summer, will also be able to enjoy her paintings.
Ali said: “It’s always nice when your work gets chosen for an exhibition but to have so many pieces on display and for such an important occasion was a real honour.
“They are also hung in such a beautiful room. I probably already had enough work, but after I had seen the Aviemore room I really wanted to paint some pictures to compliment the space.”
Former primary school teacher Ali only started painting in 2017, following her Parkinson’s diagnosis, but has quickly built a reputation as a talented artist and received widespread acclaim for her work. She also hopes that people affected by similar conditions will follow her lead and break down any perceived barriers to explore what is possible.
Ali explained: “I began painting after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Initially as a form of physiotherapy, but I soon realised it was a form of mental therapy too.
“Drawing, painting and writing are all means by which I can either escape from the worries of having Parkinson's disease, or if I need to, express those worries and concerns. They also provide opportunities for me to work my brain without getting stressed. A lot of my art involves problem-solving as well as abstract thought and coordination of ideas.”
“I would highly recommend anyone with a neurological condition to give any creative activity a go - whether it be art, music, writing whatever catches your interest. The lovely thing about art is you need very little to get you started, just some paper and a pencil, and also that art is so subjective you can’t really do it wrong.”
Ali’s collection at Leuchie includes a series of self-portraits, influenced by her experiences of Parkinson’s – covering themes like her vivid dreams, changing diet and her creative journey so far.
Ali added: “Creating artwork has been the perfect vehicle for helping me come to terms with having Parkinson’s disease. It enables me to work through my stresses, let off steam and express how I am feeling. It has also taken me on an incredible journey.
“Living with Parkinson’s is like being in a permanent fight with your body and sometimes the creative process can feel like that too. For every good drawing or painting there is one in the bucket. That’s why I describe most of my successes as ‘happy accidents’.”
Other works, in her wide-ranging and versatile collection, include ‘A Blessing or a Curse’ – how Ali feels about the positives and negatives of her condition –and the thought-provoking ‘One Blue Fish’, with one of 500 fish swimming in the wrong direction, representing the statistic that 1 in 500 people is diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
There are local paintings to admire including A Bass Rock moment, ponies from North Berwick Law, and The Bass Gannets.
Ali has successfully collaborated with Leuchie before, having designed ‘Hare-Brained’ for the charity’s Big Hare Trail, which was named Campaign of the Year in the 2022 Scottish Charity Awards last month.
To learn more about her work, visit: https://aliblevinsart.com/