Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Art and Epilepsy Article Wins International Journalism Award

An article about our art exhibition, research and participating artist, Megan O'Keefe, recently won an international journalism award. Click here for a link to the story.

Australian journalist Julia Medew received a highly commended award for her article "Art Helps Lift the Veil on Epilepsy", published in The Age, on May 2, 2009. Her article, which reached more than one million readers, told the story of a young woman's participation in a study examining the influence of epilepsy on artistic expression. The 2009 award, an initiative of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and biopharmaceutical company UCB, aims to increase awareness, improve understanding, and encourage accurate reporting of epilepsy by inviting journalists to submit stimulating, informed and compelling stories about knowledge, data and real life experiences of people with epilepsy around the world. Articles were submitted from 17 countries.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Participant Drawing Winners

We recently had the drawings for the winners of the six separate cheques for $50 (AUD). All participants who entered the Sparks of Creativity Study after October 1, 2008 and who had completed Stage 1 by July 14, 2009 were eligible. The six winners are Alan Smith, Adele O'Keefe, Bernard Parker, Matthew Paul, Rhys Fletcher and Lynne Craig. We greatly appreciate the participation of everyone involved in the study.

Partial results from the study will be released periodically in 2010.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sylvia Serville - Featured Artist with Epilepsy for June 2009

Sylvia Serville from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is one of the two featured artists with epilepsy for June 2009. Sylvia received a purchase award of $1,000 from Epilepsy Australia for her painting titled Totems and Icons. Click here to review her artwork and personal story.

The article by Denise Chapman is reprinted with permission from the Epilepsy Report, May 2009.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Family Member Participants

Family members, spouses and partners of participants in our study of the influence of epilepsy and migraines in visual art, who are 18 years and older, are invited to participate in this research study as part of an important group for comparison. You as a parent, sibling or child of a participant have experienced similar environmental influences and have a close genetic background to your relative who is a participant. Spouses and partners also share a similar environment and life experiences. Volunteer family members of participating artists do not need to be artists by trade or by hobby to help in this study. Please do not hesitate to participate because you or others feel that your artwork and drawings are not “good” or you don’t produce art yourself as a hobby or a profession.

Family members of participants are asked to do two drawing exercises and answer a few background questions. A person may withdraw from participation at any time.

This research will evaluate how epilepsy and migraines, in some circumstances, can stimulate and/or enhance artistic creativity. Secondly, it will help reduce the level of misunderstanding and stigma that your family member and you may have experienced. Thirdly, this study explores whether there are genetic links or vulnerabilities to epilepsy and/or migraines. Fourthly, it will evaluate how drawings can be used to better understand these neurological conditions and also as a tool to diagnose if a person has epilepsy and/or migraines. Finally, this study will help to develop an effective way to evaluate what famous artists had epilepsy and/or migraines based on comparison to the art and experiences of living artists.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Invitation to Future Participants

Invitation for Future Participants

The successful
launch of our groundbreaking web site at and the art exhibition has greatly exceeded expectations. There was a buzz of excitement on the opening night of the art exhibition in Melbourne, Australia on May 7, 2009. Our goal is to have the exhibition tour Australia, the USA, and hopefully other parts of the world as well. The current collection is available for veiwing at the "Creative Sparks Web Site".

All adult artists with epilepsy, from around the world, are invited to submit 10 images of one's artwork for consideration by an independent jury panel for inclusion in our on-line and in-person art exhibition. During each of the next two years, we will select 20 people with epilepsy to be "Featured Artists" on our web site and in the touring exhibition. Our hope is that this "collective biography" about artists with epilepsy will be published in a book.

Monday, May 11, 2009

9am David & Kim, plus Epilesy Reporter Article

On Wednesday May 13, 2009 I, Jim Chambliss, and Denise Chapman of Epilepsy Australia appeared on 9 am with David and Kim. It was an internationally broadcast on Channel 10 at 9:00 am.

The Epilepsy Report has recently published an article on the art exhibition and launch the web site. Click here for the story. Click here for the "Creative Sparks Web Site."

Artists with Epilepsy Award Winners

Award Sponsors:
St. Vincent's Foundation: International Purchase Award of $1,000 USD
UCB Pharma: Purchase Award of $1,000 AUD
Epilepsy Australia: Purchase Award of $1,000 AUD
JTA Associates pty. ltd.: Purchase Award of $1,000 AUD
Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria: Premier Artist Award of $450 AUD
Epilepsy Action of Australia: 19 $100 AUD awards for Featured Artists.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Creative Sparks Opening Night

On Thursday night, May 7, 2009, St. Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia was buzzing with excitement during the opening reception of "Sparks of Creativity: An Art Exhibition from People with Epilepsy. Roughly 140 people turned to celebrate the launching of the art exhibition in-person and on-line at

Forty-seven artworks by people with epilepsy from around the world were on display. The collection was so large as to require that the gallery be expanded to fill the corridor of the ground floor of the Daly Wing of St. Vincent's Hospital. Many of the participants from Australia were present for the festivities.

Dr. Mark Cook (to the right), who is a co-researcher in the study of the influence of epilepsy in art, was excited and fascinated to have discovered so many of his patients with epilepsy had a remarkable talent for art. Dr. Cook is primary link to many of the Australian artist with epilepsy becoming involved in the study and art exhibition. In North America, Dr. Steven Schachter, from Harvard School of Medicine, has been most helpful in opening the door for involvement of US participants. Dr. Schachter is the publisher of Visions: Artists Living with Epilepsy.

David Jones, President of St. Vincent's Foundation, was the host for the presentations. David has been an invaluable asset to the exhibition in helping to raise the funds and open the doors for the art exhibit to take place at St. Vincent's. Monique Silk, the curator for the gallery and art collection at St. Vincent's did an outstanding job in organizing the composition of the exhibit.

Many of the executives, case workers and staff of the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria (EFV) were present on the exciting night. EFV is the leading force in financing the web site and the evaluation of the materials that have been gathered in the Sparks of Creativity Study. The most valuable contributors to the exhibition, the artists with epilepsy, showed up in abundance to share their art and stories with other guests. More about the exhibition and pictures are to come.

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to to those who made this exhibition possible.
All Participating Artists with Epilepsy Judges: Dr. Eugen Koh, Fern Smith and Jennifer Thompson
Organizing Commitee: Pauline Brockett, Monique Silk, David Jones, Dr. Mark Cook and Jim Chambliss
Primary Financial Sponsors: St. Vincent's Health and the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria
Award Sponsors: Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria, St. Vincent's Health, Epilepsy Action, JTA Associates Pty, UCB Pharma and Epilepsy Australia Web Designer: Warren O'Hara
Consultant: Dr. Steven Schachter
Research Sponsors: University of Melbourne, St. Vincent's Hospital and Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.
All caseworkers of the Epilepsy Foundation and others who helped transport artwork.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Internatioanl Epilepsy News Cover Story

We are most fortunate that our art exhibition, web site and study was selected as the cover story for the International Epilepsy News, Issue 1 - 2009. I can e-mail an advance copy of the article by request and will update this site with a link when available.

Congratulations go out to Vicki Deutsch, Phil Thompson, Emma Brockett and Myron Dyal for having their artworks selected by their editor, Ann Little, for publication. This art exhibition from people with epilepsy offers more than a showing of art. It represents the opportunity for a strong collective voice of people with epilepsy to be heard and eventually better understood.
Personal Comments from Published Artists:

Emma Brockett (Australia)

"Our personalities are governed by our brains. Obviously those with epilepsy, in theory, will perceive art and make art in a different way from those who don't have epilepsy. Also, artists with epilepsy may display similarities only found in people with epilepsy, or the same type of epilepsy. I hope the exhibition makes people start to think about epilepsy and its consequences and opens up a dialog, which leads to a better understanding of the condition. I think art is a great way to do this as, I believe that, everyone will have an opinion of what they see. I would like to encourage people with epilepsy, including my self, to feel that they can be upfront about their epilepsy and not fear the consequences of such a disclosure. I have been told many times living in fear, is not a productive way of living at all."

Vicki Deutsch (USA):

“I would like people to understand that many people with epilepsy are not mentally disabled but rather differently 'abled.' We are creative artists and live every day lives like most others with the one disadvantage of disruptive seizures and remembering daily medications. Some of our artwork will show the inner feelings that we have about ourselves and our situation. This will give the general public more insight into an illness that does not automatically mean retardation, slow thinking and the devil causing our seizures. Depression linked to our disability and the medications is possibly the more troubling part of epilepsy. As we've all heard, the cure can sometimes be worse than the illness.”

Myron Dyal (USA)

"I have been showing my work for a few years now. My main theme is that all people regardless what their condition or circumstance can contribute not only to themselves, but to others as well. I have attempted to show in all my work all the inner pain and beauty that can be manifested with a condition as severe as epilepsy, but also a way out of that pain!

Life is not always kind, but we must be strong and fight for our dreams and never give them up for any one, any condition, or any circumstance. Once we have found our way down the pathway to our dreams then giving to others becomes part of that healing process. So, I hope that in some small way my art will help others find their own way to wholeness so that we can all see all the way home!!"

Phil Thomson (Australia)

"I want to make reference in my art to the fact that I have epilepsy because it has such a profound effect on my imagination, visual senses, emotions and on my perceptions and observations around me. What I would most like people to know about epilepsy is that it is a condition that effects and alters every aspect of human consciousness. It exposes someone who has epilepsy to state of perception that are experienced by relatively few of the overall population surrounding them."

The Age, a newspaper based out of Melbourne, Australia, published an article today, May 2, 2009 titled "Art Helps Lift the Veil on Epilepsy." The circulation of the newspaper is more than 700,000 people. The story is sensitive and well-written. We appreciate the attention to Megan and to our study and exhibition related to the influence of epilepsy in visual art. I appreciate the opportunity to promote public awareness of artists with epilepsy. The Story covers one-half of page 3 of the maing section of The Age.

There are a few excellent articles from Newsweek from April that you should read entitled

"A Storm in the Brain: The toll of epilepsy has been overlooked - and underfunded - for too long,"
"A Call to Arms in the Epilepsy Fight,"
"In the grip of the Unknown," and
"The Axelrods' Battle with Epilepsy."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Opening of Creative Sparks Art Exhibition

The excitement is building over the launch of the new Internet web site and the art exhibition at St. Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne on May 7th. The art exhibition is sponsored primarily by St. Vincent's Hospital. The web site is primarily sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.

There are 94 artists with epilepsy who have participated in our study. This exhibition is, in part, our act of appreciation for the time and effort that each participant has put into this study of the influence of epilepsy in art. The exhibition in Melbourne will be an excellent opportunity for artists with epilepsy, their family and their friends to share stories of common experiences.

The exhibition is voluntary for participants. All of the participants from Victoria who have completed the Stage One of the study are invited to show one of their artworks. International artists and artists from other states in Australia can show an artwork by invitation pursuant to selection of a panel of independent judges in combination with an organizing committee. We only have room in the gallery for about 50 to 60 artworks. Artists who provide the requested information such as a photo of oneself and statements will be given a priority in the decisions of whose work will be displayed. Yet, this will be the largest exhibition of the art of people living with epilepsy ever assembled in one location.

All participants and their family members are invited to attend the grand opening on May 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Everyone who has an interest in epilepsy or art is also invited. Please send your RSVP by e-mail to Jim Chambliss or to Judy Rumler of the Foundation Office of St. Vincent's Health for planning our catering.

We are now in the process of collecting artworks for the upcoming exhibition. Participants will be contacted by Jim Chambliss, Pauline Brockett or an associate of the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria in the next several weeks about the display of one's art.

Please keep checking this blog over the next several weeks for updates.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Art Exhibit Preview at Opera at the Market

The small preview of "Creative Sparks: An Art Exhibition from Artists with Epilepsy" at "Opera at the Market" in Melbourne on March 23rd 2009 went very well. We showed the art of a few Australian artists who are participating in our study as a sample of the large exhibition to come. There has been a lot of excitement about the art exhibition that is coming up in Melbourne on May 7th, 2009. We will be showing the art of about fifty people with epilepsy and some with migraines. The opening celebration and launch of the web site will commence on May 7th at 6:00 pm at St. Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

We are currently in the process of collecting art and information from participants in preparation of the exhibitions on-line and in-person. Please contact Jim Chambliss if you want to participate in the exhibitions or attend.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Creative Sparks Art Exhibition

We are excited to announce that there will be an exhibition of the visual art of people with migraines and/or epilepsy in Melbourne, Australia on the 7th of May, 2009 that stems from the "Sparks of Creativity Study."

There will also be a small preview of the art exhibition at the "Opera in the Market" in Melbourne on March 23, 2009. For more information contact Jim by e-mail at