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Artist captures experience of cancer treatment

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By Fiona Reid
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Artist captures experience of cancer treatment

A NEW exhibition in the region captures the highs and the desperate lows of cancer treatment.

‘Still Alive’ is a collection of works by Julie Hollis who underwent breast cancer treatment through the pandemic.

It documents her emotional rollercoaster from diagnosis to all clear.

Julie, who now lives in Kirkcudbright, was diagnosed in 2020 and her treatment ran into 2021.

She said: “The paintings are a faithful interpretation of how I was feeling throughout. With cancer treatment you go from highs to desperate lows, and then there’s the exhaustion.

“Creating the work was cathartic for me. Sometimes I would sit at the easel and be in tears.”

Her Still Alive mixed media pieces are on show at Made on Cloud 9 gallery in Kirkcudbright until June 18 and it includes a self-portrait she painted after undergoing a mastectomy.

Alongside the display she has also been running a series of free workshops where people directly affected by life-threatening illness can explore their own feelings and experiences by creating personal art journals.

It is part of the Together Again initiative, a grassroots arts and cultural initiative organised by the independent arts organisation DG Unlimited with over £42,000 of funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Julie said: “Having cancer treatment during lockdown meant that there was much less in the way of support. You couldn’t meet up with people going through the same experience and talk it over – it was just a matter of relentlessly heading off to hospital for chemo every two weeks.

“I realised that there must be so many others out there who went through similar things so I decided to do the workshops.

“I just realised that so much gets locked up inside, and if these sessions can help people unlock a little of what’s trapped within, that’ll be brilliant.”

One of the aims of Together Again was to promote wellbeing, recognising that people have endured isolation and emotional pressures of many kinds as a result of the pandemic.

Stephen Lacey, Chair of DG Unlimited, said: “Together Again has been very successful in promoting community events and grassroots arts and cultural activity all across the region. This is something we felt was enormously important as part of the rebuilding process that needs to take place due to the pandemic.

“Julie’s exhibition and workshops mark a fitting conclusion for the season – they really sum up what we were aiming to do – making use of the unrivalled capacity of the arts to act as a catalyst and to bring people back together.”

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