ELIZABETH MANUEL

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Elizabeth was an accomplished barrister and judge. In 2011, she collapsed aged 46 whilst training for the London marathon. Suffering a GCS coma scale of 3, with a survival chance of just 10%, she had a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage and stroke and needed immediate brain surgery to clip a ruptured giant aneurysm. After two weeks in a coma, Elizabeth regained consciousness but had a catastrophic brain injury, leaving her paralysed and with Homonymous Hemianopia, a condition causing 65% blindness in each eye, with total blindness in the left field of each eye.
Elizabeth strives to raise awareness and create a dialogue about the issues faced through strokes and sight loss, through her art, writing, giving speeches and her charity work. She volunteers for the Stroke Association, and RNIB, and is a trustee of the Brain & Spine Foundation. She was President of Portsmouth St John’s Ambulance for 11 years, a role for which she has been honoured by the Queen, just to name a few of her associations.

Whilst in rehabilitation for her stroke, Elizabeth was asked to create a project demonstrating her understanding of her brain injury, which led to her four paintings of her brain. Emulating time-capsules, they give a glimpse into her pre-haemorrhage brain; haemorrhage brain; and her post-haemorrhage brain over a 10-year period.

In Elizabeth’s words:

In 2011, I left hospital with no rehab or treatment. At the time, I was severely cognitively impaired, massively disabled, and every area of my life affected. Eventually a year after my stroke I was sent away to rehab for 18 weeks. The patients were asked to create a project which showed that they understood their brain injury. I knew I wanted to paint my brain. At the time I only knew how to use watercolours. I painted “My pre-haemorrhage brain”; “My haemorrhage brain”; and “My post-haemorrhage brain”. Each painting described and related to my life at that time.

In 2015 I tried to go back to work as a Judge, but with no reasonable adjustments at work for my sight-loss, 15 months later I was medically retired. This prompted me to focus on my charity work to try to make things better for other disabled people.

When Lockdown struck one of the ways to pass time and to give me something to look forward to was to do on-line painting courses. I also collaborated with Lindsey Whitelaw for the Windows of the Soul Exhibition by me personally painting what I can see of her paintings with the sight I still have, as against what a fully-sighted person sees.
I have now painted my fourth brain painting in the series to reveal my new life. I have hope for the future and positivity having emerged from the traumas of the last 10 years. I am stronger, wiser, and happier than ever which my 2022 brain painting number four shows. I am looking forward to more paintings; writing books; more speeches and serving my charities.

ELIZABETH MANUEL

00:00 / 00:59

Elizabeth was an accomplished barrister and judge. In 2011, she collapsed aged 46 whilst training for the London marathon. Suffering a GCS coma scale of 3, with a survival chance of just 10%, she had a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage and stroke and needed immediate brain surgery to clip a ruptured giant aneurysm. After two weeks in a coma, Elizabeth regained consciousness but had a catastrophic brain injury, leaving her paralysed and with Homonymous Hemianopia, a condition causing 65% blindness in each eye, with total blindness in the left field of each eye.
Elizabeth strives to raise awareness and create a dialogue about the issues faced through strokes and sight loss, through her art, writing, giving speeches and her charity work. She volunteers for the Stroke Association, and RNIB, and is a trustee of the Brain & Spine Foundation. She was President of Portsmouth St John’s Ambulance for 11 years, a role for which she has been honoured by the Queen, just to name a few of her associations.

Whilst in rehabilitation for her stroke, Elizabeth was asked to create a project demonstrating her understanding of her brain injury, which led to her four paintings of her brain. Emulating time-capsules, they give a glimpse into her pre-haemorrhage brain; haemorrhage brain; and her post-haemorrhage brain over a 10-year period.

In Elizabeth’s words:

In 2011, I left hospital with no rehab or treatment. At the time, I was severely cognitively impaired, massively disabled, and every area of my life affected. Eventually a year after my stroke I was sent away to rehab for 18 weeks. The patients were asked to create a project which showed that they understood their brain injury. I knew I wanted to paint my brain. At the time I only knew how to use watercolours. I painted “My pre-haemorrhage brain”; “My haemorrhage brain”; and “My post-haemorrhage brain”. Each painting described and related to my life at that time.

In 2015 I tried to go back to work as a Judge, but with no reasonable adjustments at work for my sight-loss, 15 months later I was medically retired. This prompted me to focus on my charity work to try to make things better for other disabled people.

When Lockdown struck one of the ways to pass time and to give me something to look forward to was to do on-line painting courses. I also collaborated with Lindsey Whitelaw for the Windows of the Soul Exhibition by me personally painting what I can see of her paintings with the sight I still have, as against what a fully-sighted person sees.
I have now painted my fourth brain painting in the series to reveal my new life. I have hope for the future and positivity having emerged from the traumas of the last 10 years. I am stronger, wiser, and happier than ever which my 2022 brain painting number four shows. I am looking forward to more paintings; writing books; more speeches and serving my charities.

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EXHIBITIONS