Northumberland artist fights back from brain haemorrhage, stroke and partial sight loss to fulfil dream

An artist has overcome life-changing health issues, including partial sight loss, to realise her dream.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 12:05 pm
Amy Izat.
Amy Izat.

Amy Izat, who lives near Berwick, is getting ready to stage her first art exhibition in London later this month.

It marks the culmination of a remarkable journey for the 27-year-old.

In 2014, when working in Sardinia, Amy collapsed from a brain haemorrhage caused by an Arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

Artist Amy Izat at work.

She was flown home with only a 50/50 chance of survival, to Newcastle’s RVI where she spent four weeks in the High Dependency Unit undergoing numerous operations.

Amy said: “After a year, I finally felt ready to move on, and enrolled onto a drawing and painting course. My ambition - to become a classically-trained portrait painter. However, my AVM was a constant fear.

"It wasn’t long before I was in hospital for more surgery. Several complications followed, including a stroke and loss of feeling down my left side.

“After another ten weeks on the HDU, my mental health deteriorated.

Amy has enjoyed connecting with nature by drawing birds.

"Worried about the negative impact this was having on my recovery, the doctors summoned my Labrador, Teasel. Having Teasel lay quietly next to me made me smile for the first time in weeks.

“There was something beyond the hospital walls. I just had to keep fighting.

“It was a long journey. I suffered from daily migraines, fatigue, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, while being half blind in both eyes.”

Then, a year ago, after recuperating from a double operation, she lost her central point of focus, and hit another low.

Amy and her dog.

"Angry at experiencing all this when I should just be having fun with friends, I had to remind myself that choosing life, and to really live it, might be the hard option, but it was the choice I wanted to make,” said Amy.

“I went to the beach to watch the sunrise and felt so grateful for still being able to see where the sun hit the water - even in a distorted way.

"I may not see a whole face anymore, or the whole outline of someone, but I’m thankful for what is left, I’m learning to make sense of what I can see, and to put it on canvas.”

She has recently been drawing animals by using grid techniques, taking comfort in nature, particularly birds.

“People often comment that my experiences have increased my sensitivity when drawing,” says Amy. “I have more determination and appreciation for the vision I have left. These are gifts I would not have without everything I’ve survived.

“The exhibition explores not what I see, but what I don’t. I draw each subject as usual, but then pass the eraser onto fellow trusted artist, Mark Irving, to remove the area of the subject I no longer see when looking directly into its eyes.

"This symbolises my operating room process, each time having a bit of vision taken away of something that was once perfect. It’s this empty space and blurred field of vision that has been an important part of my journey.

“The exhibition aims to convey the visual experience of those living with sight loss. Working alongside other artists with visual impairments is helping me feel less alone. I hope to show something unique and individual.”

Windows of the Soul is showing at the Lumen Church, London, from October 15-23.

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