Teenage artist draws on cancer battle for inspiration
19-year-old Holly Hamer is determined not to be known as ‘the girl with cancer’ because she also happens to be a very talented artist.
Holly, from Grappenhall, has turned her battle with a rare condition called rhabdomyosarcoma into inspiration for a remarkable collection of paintings and drawings which are now on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.
Looking from the Inside Out explores how Holly is dealing with aspects of her illness including how her body has changed, her lack of control over the illness and what could be considered as her acceptance of it
Holly said: “It feels so surreal to have my work up on display and it’s a pretty wonderful feeling.
“This body of work is very personal to me so it’s slightly nerve-racking for people to be seeing it but it’s mainly exciting to get my work out there.”
While undergoing treatment the determined teenager continued with her education, successfully completing an AS level in art at Sir John Deane’s College in Northwich.
And her passion for creativity has been spurred on, rather than diminished, by her illness.
“I feel as though this [cancer] is a significant event that makes you go through so much pain and lack of control, and that is something worth expressing because those feelings are so raw and human.
“Creating pieces of artwork of different things I went through is what helped me get through everything because it was a way for me to work through all of these feelings and make me understand it more.”
Although unable to work or study at the moment, Holly’s ambition is to become a full-time professional artist.
“I’ve always been creative and enjoyed drawing,” she added, “but it’s only the past couple of years that I’ve really got into it.
“It’s ever since I was diagnosed and wanted to fill my time with something I enjoyed that I’ve felt a passion to create.
“I do want to be a professional artist. If I could spend my days painting and drawing and put my heart and soul into each piece, and make a living out of it, that would be the dream.”
Looking from the Inside Out is supported by CLIC Sargent, a charity which provides vital emotional, practical and financial support to young cancer patients and their families during and after treatment.
Holly credits James George, a CLIC Sargent social worker she was supported by at The Christie hospital, for helping her deal with her illness and aiding her to explore her emotions and experiences through art.
He was so impressed by the teenager’s talent that he encouraged her to approach Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager for Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, with some of her work which ultimately clinched the young artist her first ever solo exhibition.
Mr Dick said: “Holly’s maturity is clear in the way she uses art as a vehicle for expressing her emotions.
“When I first met Holly I made it clear she was only offered the show because of the quality of her work and not because of her cancer.
“Her artwork is both strong and emotional and it deserves to be seen in its own right.”
Exhibition title: Looking from the Inside Out
Dates: Saturday 2 July – Saturday 10 September
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB