- in In Pictures
A pastel painter who weaned herself off painkillers after being inspired by the landscapes of the Lake District has been auctioning off her work to raise money for NHS staff battling coronavirus.
Emma Hunt, 45, from Egremont, has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a painful genetic condition that affects her joints.
Her condition was only diagnosed four years ago and she had to give up her career as a radiochemical analyst at the Sellafield nuclear site.
She said she spent years in bed in agony, numbed by painkillers, until last November she weaned herself off drugs and began to paint.
“I’d spent years in bed in pain basically watching telly, which isn’t really a life,” she said.
“I’m inspired by landscapes and the Lakes. When I came off medication I felt alive and saw beauty and colour.
“I’m not very mobile so I can’t visit these beauty spots, so I contact photographers and ask them if I can paint their photos and the response has been humbling.”
Earlier this year Ms Hunt began selling her pictures, which were on display at the Harbour Master Coffee House and Bar in Whitehaven.
She believes strongly that art therapy can help those suffering from pain, mental health conditions or drug and alcohol addictions.
Ms Hunt has underlying heart and lung problems so has been self-isolating during the coronavirus outbreak.
But during lockdown she has been doing free, live workshops getting would-be artists to paint with her and sharing tips and techniques.
Her 60-minutes sessions take place on a Sunday.
“For that hour when we are drawing we are at peace,” she said.
“Art takes you away from pain or worry. It helps ease depression and just for one hour a week, my students are able to escape the heaviness of what we are all dealing with.
“I’m joined by lots of people around the country who then send me their art which is very satisfying.
“I can’t volunteer or do anything practical, it’s just my way of giving something back. Mental health cannot be overlooked.”
Ms Hunt has auctioned four of her paintings online and raised almost £700 to help fund Personal Protective Equipment for medical teams and district nursing staff in Cumbria.