The Gallery

A screenshot of the Stonebird Autumn 2011 Art ExhibitionStonebird Autumn Art Exhibition 2011
Stonebird announces the launch of its online 2011 Autumn Art Exhibition , featuring works by Eva Caball and Greg and Linda Crowhurst, in order to raise awareness of the atrocious hidden suffering of Severe ME and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

A Stick Picture exhibition about Severe ME by Linda Crowhurst

" I have chosen to use stick pictures to represent my body, because that is how ME makes me feel : thin and brittle, reduced and diminished to the bare minimum. They represent the starkness of my situation and how this paralysing illness has taken away so much of me."

a pen and ink representation of Linda arms stretched wide out, in a circle of painful symptoms, with 'no' written on her hanging head. Desperate
a pen and ink representation of Linda being hammered all over her body by noise. Noise
a pen and ink representation of Linda pushing against a pile of boxes each labeld with one of her many symptoms. Ill
a pen and ink representation of Linda pushing against a pile of boxes each labeld no tests, no treatments, no biomedical service, no way outNo
a pen and ink representation of just two lines for eyes and a curly line for hair and faceBlank
a pen and ink representation of Linda behind a grid of linesNegated
You are negated as soon as you step into the world of ME. Suddenly you find that people don't believe you are ill , that people will deny you have a neurological disease , suddenly you won't receive the same respect you used to have. Friends and family and professionals will not understand your illness, will actually negate your experience, will blame you for your illness. You will find little or no help from the medical profession. You will find your symptoms are not tested or treated. You will be left struggling to find ways to cope and find a voice to drown out the negation of the world.
a pen and ink representation of Linda sitting enclosed in a ragged circleIsolated, in agony
Not only do you become separated from the ordinary busy world that most people inhabit because you are too hypersensitive and ill to interact with it, you become separated from the people you know, from the friends you had. You become separated from the ability to do all the things you like to do , want to do, even need to do, to survive. You become separated from the person you were as you have to let go of everything because you are too ill to function and more than this,you become separated from yourself as the illness affects you cognitively and functionally.
a pen and ink representation of Linda sitting in a circleStatic Motion
No part of me feels solid. Despite I am physically still, everything seems fluid and in motion. My body is flowing with disturbing sensations. My head is dizzy and full of upward movement, the environment seems wobbly too, nothing feels real. And I feel insubstantial , apart from the pain, the paralysis , the numbness, the dizzying motions surrounding me and invading me. Coping seems impossible. There is nothing to hold onto while everything is seemingly moving, including me.
a pen and ink representation of Linda's brain fog and painMy reality
Even if I look normal to you, even if and I doubt this is possible, I look like a normal person, this is what I feel like all the time. The screaming nerve and muscle pain may not be visible , the crawling sensations, the flowing pins and needles, the eye pain, the noise pain, the brain fog may not be visible to you but to me they are always present. I am always in a physical land of distress and unbelievable pain that has no end and no relief. It never goes away.
a pen and ink representation of Linda's brain fog and painBrainfog and pain, no relent
My mind is totally empty, devoid of all thought and colour. A grey fog seems to have descended over all. I cannot think, I cannot find the right words, my sentences are muddled, my memories have disappeared. I cannot imagine , I cannot see visually inside my mind. This is serious, this is cognitive dysfunction, this is an inability to recieve and process, to create, to communicate. My mind is frighteningly empty and inactive. My brain is damaged. It's a form of dementia, that no one talks about or acknowledges as such. Just another level of denial, of the torture of ME.
a pen and ink representation of our nightmare of suffering togetherNightmare together
I am in a nightmare of isolation. No one can understand the sheer devastating torment I experience in every moment of my life. Even if I am totally still, silent and peaceful inside, the pain, the paralysis, the sensitivity continues to be acute and tormenting. Every noise is vast and irritating to me, no matter how insignificant it would be to a normal person. Into my world, a world that is not remotely normal in any way, where anything and everything is too much to bear where everything is difficult to impossible to do, here my beloved husband tries to comfort me and embrace me. Together we live this nightmare of impossibility.
apen and ink representation of Linda's unbearable painUnbearable Illness

My head is screaming with pain, every single noise assaults me. My ears hurt, my head hurts, my face hurts, my neck hurts, my nose, even my eyebrows hurt. My eyeballs feel swollen. My eyes itch and burn. Noise not only attacks my head, it attacks my whole body because I am so sensitive to the vibration, you might as well be hitting me, the impact is just as bad. This is my torment from moment to moment. Unrelievable, immense and agonizing.

Paintings about Caring for someone with Severe ME; oil on canvas by Greg Crowhurst

an oil painting of Linda with pain in her facesThe pain in her face
There's a song called " Slip Sliding Away" by Paul Simon that says "a good day is when there is no pain" ; THAT would be a MIRACLE : unheard off here for 17 years. Some say that ME is an invisible disease, yet look into my wife's face and see the pain written there.
an oil painting of Gregin great distressThe gone to bed
So Linda has had to go to bed, there is no alternative, she is so incredibly, tear-your-heart -apart ill. And it's the early afternoon. Nothing so far has happened today, just her suffering. And me; exploding in sadness and helpnessess.
an oil painting of Greg, hands to his head, in anguishThe Anguish
Somedays I look at the clock and I don't know how to get through the rest of the day. Linda is so ill; somedays I completely run out of ideas to know what to do help her. After 17 years it is so hard , now and again, to keep going another minute.
an oil painting of Linda with her head bent down The Lost Day
This is a posture that I know very well. When Linda is this ill, I know that the whole day will be lost to ME and we will sink even further into obscurity and isolation. Great anger in me ; meantime the world has no idea.
an oil painting of the painter falling backwards, arms outstretched The Falling
The isolation getting worse and worse; communication becoming more and more limited with anyone outside us. Fewer and fewer who have any idea what we go though. Harder and harder to keep fighting back. I'm falling off the edge of the world.
an oil painting of the painter hiding behind his hands The Hiding
Sometimes you just mess-up and you want to hide away from the consequences. You wonder why you keep exposing yourself. Why ? Why ? Why ? Why not just give-up ?
an oil painting of three faces and the back of the head,of the same carerThe Trinity
I clawed this picture out with my fingers, tearing, stripping, digging down inside, to express massive anger, to punch out at the narrow mindedness and persecution of us. Then I added, over time to the picture; so it's me over several years. So tired, so close to giving-up, so dismayed, so needing to be heard, wanting to be seen. Then I painted myself looking at myself and in the midst of suffering, there is God.
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an oil painting of a carer holding his head in his handsThe Carer
I feel great sympathy, when I look at this painting. Most of the time, I have little idea what to do, how to help. Sometimes I get it wrong and bury my hands in my hair like this. I notice though that my hands are strong; I am strong in my creativity. I have learned that I am strong in love.
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a red, white and blue oil painting of a carer with his mouth open in a silent screamThe Silence
I had an absolute need to scream; but no sound came out . There is no one here to hear anyway ; we are incredibly isolated. Some of my most intense anger is directed at the Church, who almost ignore us- ignore the most sick and disabled. My rage has no expression, except to paint using only my fingers, using yelling red and exquisite blues and squeezing raw white on as thickly as possible.
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a red, white and blue oil painting of a carer , mouth open, staring, looking deadThe Loss
On the last day of my Dad's life, he came to visit us. I had no money to buy him a coffee; as a carer you are forced into poverty. He died that night and maybe , for this picture is still a mystery to me, I have expressed that. I feel grief, pain, loss, when I look at this picture. There are so many losses; this is probably the greatest single factor in Severe ME, on every possible level.
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an oil painting of Greg holding Linda's unable to move bodyThe Holding
I feel just enormous tenderness; Linda you can see, is unable to stand or move without support. Her posture is almost lifeless . I hold her, and I have held her all these years.
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a self portrait of Greg The Fighter
This was totally painted without a brush, just using my fingers, on a day when I was attacked all over the internet, by other activists. I am a fighter. Stand up for truth and you will be attacked. What I see is inner strength, a racing mind and great inner focus.
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a painting of Linda slumped in her wheelchair The Agony
Despite the agony and the exhaustion, the inability, to sit up, this painting is done a desire to convey the many aspects of ME, to the world. The tenderness and the love and the passion Greg feels for me, shine through this painting, despite my illness, Greg sees me and loves me.
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a painting of Linda bombarded by irritation, burying her face in her handThe Torment
This painting captures a moment that I didn't want captured. I felt extreme irritation, overwhelming distress, a complete inability to cope with the noise, the movement around me, the raging pain inside me, the utter helplessness and desperation , needing complete rest and the removal of all stimulation. Despite this, I love the colours and the way my hair is painted .
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a painting of Linda staringThe Staring
This painting is a strange painting in that I feel it's most like me, in many ways and yet when you look at it closely, you see I am staring oddly amd my face is all drained of colour. When I wake I am paralysed and unable to open my eyes. Eventually I can open them but I stare, without focus, in a limbo between paralysis and ability. I always feel Greg's tenderness towards me and his passion to express how he feels, shining through all his paintings, making them beautiful, even in the depth of pain and distress.
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a painting of Linda apparently asleep , but in reality paralysedThe Paralysis
Linda's prettiness is captured here. It looks like she is gently asleep. The reality though is utterly cruel. She is trapped in a body, raging, screaming with pain, unable to speak or move, despite being conscious and needing help, that is inaccessible, because of her neurlogical and central nervous system dysfunction.
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a red, white and blue oil painting of Greg looking exhaustedThe Exhaustion
Being a carer is tiring, exhausting : mentally, physically, emotionally. You can never get away from the illness , but that is only a tiny part of the effort. Much more pervasive is the grinding, snails-pace battle we wage every day with those who seek to deny, diminish, negate the illness, the real issues, leaving you with only your arms to hold and your faith to keep going.
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a finger-painted,  mask-like, painting of Greg, in red, blue and white The Mask
I painted in a reverse way, painting the shadows only. So it's a mask over nothingness.There are only empty slots where the eyes should be. The mask hides the emptiness I feel, when there is nothing left to give.
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a painting of Linda, head down, in her white dressing gown The Waiting
I see Linda , in her dressing gown, waiting, and waiting. She has been waiting all these years, waiting every day. To be able to move, to do anything, to get dressed, to know if it is possible to communicate, get up, if the pain is going to ease. More than this, waiting for the world to properly recognise the serious devastation that is Severe ME and do something about it.
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an all- purple painting of Linda in great painThe Pain
How often I see Linda like this, in absolute agony , with no pain relief. Every single day I see her like this. This look is a very common one. How does that feel ? To see my wife in agony, while very well paid psychiatrists are busy spreading lies about ME; this is very hard to deal with.
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an all- blue painting of Linda , eyes shut, in absolute agonyThe Suffering
The pain is never-ending. It goes on and on and on. It throbs, it burns, it irritates, it screams, it demands attention. Everything is experienced only through pain. Pain with paralysis leaves me trapped in a state of total agony and torment, completely unable to escape from. This is my daily existence.
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a skin-coloured picture of Linda, in bed, eyes shut, arm paralysed above her headThe Isolation
In Severe ME you are completely isolated, on every level.You are isolated by the illness, it affects you cognitively, so that you are even isolated from your own thoughts and knowledge. No one else can begin to imagine the horror and the torment of the physical experience. You live in splendid isolation, where everyone you knew and everything you loved to do are impossible to make contact with and it gets worse, the longer you are ill, as your symptoms deteriorate and people fall by the wayside.
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