Tuesday 23 September 2014

Calling all artists, closet artists, occasional doodlers, frustrated poets, and interpretive dancers, with Dysautonomia.

(My paltry doodling trying to capture my Dysautonomia experience, source)

Back in 2012 I stumbled across UK based and award winning artist,  Sophie Ploeg. Her painting The Blue Dress, depicted a woman experiencing POTS. And it hit the mark in a way that only someone who was living with the condition could achieve.

As Sophie herself explained, "I wanted to express the feeling of dizziness and loneliness in a painting." And she captured it perfectly.

I was instantly drawn to her piece and have followed her work the last couple of years. Last year I was lucky enough to become the owner of a print of The Blue Dress, when she was generously selling them to support the work of Syncope Trust and Reflex Anoxia, aka STARS UK. I treasure my print because it's one of the few artistic interpretations of Dysautonomia that I've come across. I've been lucky enough to get to know Sophie since and am inspired both by her artwork and her ability to create such stunning detailed pieces whilst contending with the fickle nature of POTS. (You need to check out Sophie's lace work, especially her recent The Lace Trail collection. If I didn't have shocking brain fog this morning I may be able to come up with better descriptors than amazing, but really her work is amazing. I think her Black Lace Shawl may be my favourite.)

I've been thinking about Sophie's painting, and how art can be so incredibly powerful in conveying the illness experience. And also about how important it is for patients to reclaim their voice and tell their stories. And last night about 4am I had an idea.

For the month of October, Dysautonomia Awareness Month, I'd love to showcase artistic works of patients that examine life with Dysautonomia.

So the theme is:

Exploring Dysautonomia through the Arts.
  • It can be a painting
  • A drawing
  • A song
  • A poem
  • An interpretive dance (many internet hugs for the inclusion of jazz hands or spirit fingers)
  • A sculpture
  • Mixed media
  • Photography

You don't have to be a professional artist. Art therapy can be an incredibly powerful in both exploring our personal experience and helping others to understand what we are dealing with on a daily basis. So if you have a piece hiding in your cupboard, or a scrap of paper hidden under some magazines and coffee cups, get them out and send them in.

Deadline for submissions is 5pm 30th September 2014.


  • This is open to patients only. 
  • The piece must reflect an experience with Dysautonomia (eg POTS, NCS, AAG, OI, PAF, generalised Dysautonomia.)

In your submission include the following:

  • Attach a short 1-2 paragraphs explanation of your piece.
  • Attach a short artist biography (a few sentences only).
  • Attach your submission as a .jpg, .doc, or video link eg YouTube link.
  • You can be Anonymous if you like. 
Send all submissions to: rustyhoe(at)livingwithbob(dot)com

So dust off your paints and your pastels. Practice your vocal scales and dust off your leotards. Get your art on people.


Anyone who knows me, knows I love Frida Kahlo. Her vibrant and evocative works, especially the pieces where she explores her own medical issues are perfect. This song is a lovely tribute to her by Oz band Tinpan Orange, Song for Frida Kahlo. Love Emily Lubitz' vocals.

Remember to head on over here to donate to my Clicking My Heels For Dysautonomia, raising money for the Greg Page Fund for Orthostatic Intolerance and Dysautonomia research, at The Baker IDI. Thanks to the generosity of many we've already raised over $2,600, keep donating and hopefully we can reach $10,000.


  1. I love this idea! Might have to get the paint box out!

    1. Go for it Rach, I'd love to see how you can put your experience to a canvas :)

    2. This is awesome! Great idea Michelle, can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

  2. What a wonderful idea. I took me many years before I felt strong enough to be able to express my POTS in paint - perhaps with a little push some closest artists will feel like sharing!!

  3. oh and macarons for me please....

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for thinking this up. What a cheering and lovely thing to do for dysautonomia awareness month. I'll have to dig out those long unused art materials!

  5. I have a song I recorded awhile ago about channeling health struggles into positives energy. I hope I can finally get it edited in time to submit out. My friend was going to help me do that, but I was too ill. Oh, the irony!


All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx

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