JOAN BURKITT-GRAY

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In Joan's words: One way I can now describe myself is as an artist; but it took sight loss to help get me here. I was a journalist on the Financial Times for nearly 25 years until, in 2005, I took voluntary redundancy, as sight loss meant I could no longer see to do the job I had loved. I am now a volunteer priest in the Church of England. And I paint icons, the sacred images in the Christian spiritual tradition, the “Windows to Heaven”, shown here.
I now have advanced glaucoma in both eyes. My glaucoma was controlled with drops until it rampaged about three years ago, wiping out half the visual field in my right eye. After major surgery to help control the pressure, the sight loss remains but I now hope it is in check.
Ever since I was told – after the surgery following the detached retina – that “it would be a miracle if I ever got any sight back in that eye”, I have wanted to celebrate the “miracle” of the sight I have, and the extraordinary surgery and skill that has gone into making my sight possible. I hope these icons help do so.
I can adapt to even quite extensive glaucoma sight loss (or not!). I normally experience surprisingly little visual disturbance. Unless I shut my left, less-impaired eye. Then I can see what my eyes and brain are compensating for, as the glittering black line of sight-loss dances across the low horizon of my field of vision, with the strange nothingness of glaucoma sight-loss above it. If I get very tired or anxious the ability to compensate disappears. Then the black line and obliteration of field-loss affects my whole vision, and can start up a vicious circle of increasing anxiety and increasing inability to ignore the sight-loss.
I cannot see properly in three dimensions. And I cannot compensate for changes in light level. These two effects combined last year, when I walked confidently into thin air off a step I could not see, fell, and broke my back.
I hope these two icons help show how amazingly well the sight loss due to even severe glaucoma can be compensated for. A blessing – and a sharp warning. The icons are of “Pantaleimon the healer”, a Roman-era doctor saint with his scalpel: the Romans did eye surgery – who knew?! And of St Julian of Norwich, a 14th century wise woman who, living at the time of the then-terrifying plague, the Black Death, first wrote, after all her experiences that “all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. Joan is available for commissions

JOAN BURKITT-GRAY

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In Joan's words: One way I can now describe myself is as an artist; but it took sight loss to help get me here. I was a journalist on the Financial Times for nearly 25 years until, in 2005, I took voluntary redundancy, as sight loss meant I could no longer see to do the job I had loved. I am now a volunteer priest in the Church of England. And I paint icons, the sacred images in the Christian spiritual tradition, the “Windows to Heaven”, shown here.
I now have advanced glaucoma in both eyes. My glaucoma was controlled with drops until it rampaged about three years ago, wiping out half the visual field in my right eye. After major surgery to help control the pressure, the sight loss remains but I now hope it is in check.
Ever since I was told – after the surgery following the detached retina – that “it would be a miracle if I ever got any sight back in that eye”, I have wanted to celebrate the “miracle” of the sight I have, and the extraordinary surgery and skill that has gone into making my sight possible. I hope these icons help do so.
I can adapt to even quite extensive glaucoma sight loss (or not!). I normally experience surprisingly little visual disturbance. Unless I shut my left, less-impaired eye. Then I can see what my eyes and brain are compensating for, as the glittering black line of sight-loss dances across the low horizon of my field of vision, with the strange nothingness of glaucoma sight-loss above it. If I get very tired or anxious the ability to compensate disappears. Then the black line and obliteration of field-loss affects my whole vision, and can start up a vicious circle of increasing anxiety and increasing inability to ignore the sight-loss.
I cannot see properly in three dimensions. And I cannot compensate for changes in light level. These two effects combined last year, when I walked confidently into thin air off a step I could not see, fell, and broke my back.
I hope these two icons help show how amazingly well the sight loss due to even severe glaucoma can be compensated for. A blessing – and a sharp warning. The icons are of “Pantaleimon the healer”, a Roman-era doctor saint with his scalpel: the Romans did eye surgery – who knew?! And of St Julian of Norwich, a 14th century wise woman who, living at the time of the then-terrifying plague, the Black Death, first wrote, after all her experiences that “all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. Joan is available for commissions

EXHIBITIONS

EXHIBITIONS