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25 March 2022

April’s Don’t Send Me A Card featured artist

During our 10th anniversary year Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis is the 2022 Delamore Arts charity partner. SW OMS Ambassador Tessa Jane has been leading the partnership to coordinate artists and workshops throughout the month-long event.

Delamore Arts partnership

Overcoming MS is the 2022 Delamore Arts charity partner. The art exhibition runs every day in May at the Delamore Estate in Devon, UK. South West OMS Ambassador Tessa Jane has been leading the partnership to coordinate artists and workshops throughout the month-long event. Delamore Arts is open to the public and a virtual catalogue is available to purchase artwork from afar.

World MS Day falls on the 30th May, right at the end of the Delamore Arts event. The theme for World MS Day is ‘connections’. The campaign is all about building community connection, self-connection and connections to quality care. Thousands of people gather at Delamore, to celebrate the arts. The beautiful grounds provide a safe and green space for visitors to meet. Making art is a mindful and gentle activity for people living with MS. To be able to use my art practice to raise awareness and funds for Overcoming MS, while providing networking opportunities, is a powerful thing to achieve.

My story

I remember the fear and worry of the day I developed optic neuritis. I was so concerned for my girls, what was happening and I felt like I had no one to comfort or support me. My world as I knew it crumbled before me. My family and friends tried to help; it was all such an unknown world I had entered. I was an Art Teacher, but couldn’t teach without my sight. In a matter of weeks, I was unable to drive and felt unsafe in the classroom. A few weeks later the term Multiple Sclerosis entered my vocabulary.

As a single parent of two beautiful girls, I had taken steps to protect us, never expecting to need that safety net. We managed the adjustments together, my eldest was so strong and brave. My youngest was fiercely protective and very scared, she was only ten at the time of my diagnosis. My sight eventually returned, though not 100% and I learnt to adapt and then I wrote a poem about this time in my life.

It was my passion for dance and stage design that led me to a fashion and textile degree at the University of Central England, followed by a post-graduate degree  at Homerton College, Cambridge. A decade of teaching honed my mixed media skills leading me to conceptual art. 

My designs are created from relief work using recycled plastics; I used an app to create patterns. They are fused by being heated and stitched, then assembled into special upcycled perspex frames which have been discarded. They are miniature worlds reflecting the need to protect the planet. As we all benefit from spending time outside and the healing qualities of nature, I thought they would make a lovely gift to send for an occasion. 

I use the sewing machine as a drawing tool along with found and conventional materials, but my work has many layers visually and conceptually, using printed, collaged, drawn, and stitched mixed media. I recycle and repurpose, sourcing discarded objects, thoughts and feelings and help them to be heard.

I won the Oxford International Art Fair 2016, was selected to exhibit in The XI Florence biennale in 2017, and at the Royal West of England Academy in 2019 and Society of Women Artists in 2020/21. My work has strong narratives and patterns to unpick piece by piece until you discover the story within.

Finding OMS

It was seven and a half years after my diagnosis that a dear friend of mine took me to The Merlin Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Cornwall. United by our unpleasant symptoms we hoped to hear something different from the usual doom and gloom. Prof Jeremy Hobart introduced us to the OMS program, and a woman who attended showed us her copy of The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis book. It was well-thumbed, full of bookmarks, and was clearly well read. “A year ago I couldn’t walk,” she told us. “And now I can with crutches.” Dr Colin Bannon also spoke about reducing sugar and explained that he too was following the OMS program.

I felt empowered after being introduced to OMS. The difference was the positivity, the laughter and the smiles. I began to feel part of a family who cared. Eighteen months later I had more energy and was beginning to feel stronger. Now into my fourth year of the 7-step program, I am one of the South West OMS Ambassadors. I like making a difference to people’s lives, more quickly than my own experience. I am enjoying the sense of purpose and support being involved with Overcoming MS gives me.

To help Overcoming MS raise much-needed funds to reach more people with MS, visit our fundraising page.

You can purchase e-cards through Don’t Send Me a Card featuring designs by Tessa and other ‘OMSers’. All donations benefit the Overcoming MS goal of informing, supporting and empowering people affected by MS worldwide. 

If you would like your artwork and story featured, please email [email protected]