Cancer patients at The Christie have been inspired to do paintings in the style of Van Gogh as part of a competition being run in conjunction with the Van Gogh Alive exhibition at MediaCityUK.

The patients have all benefitted from art classes in the art room at The Christie in the past which will shortly undergo a major refurbishment funded by The Christie charity and the charitable proceeds of the Van Gogh Alive exhibition.

One of the patients involved is Julie Colville, 68, from Withington. Julie was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in 2015 and first started to visit the art room in 2017. She is now in remission following what she describes as a gruelling cancer treatment.

She said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this project, supporting the fundraising efforts to expand the art room at The Christie. Van Gogh was a fantastic painter and imitating his style in my own work will be a challenge.
“The art room at The Christie is a truly amazing place where patients can go to focus on something other than having cancer, at least for a few hours at a time.
“It’s good to be with a group of people who understand the emotions that you go through when you are living with and coming to terms with cancer.
“I hope that as many people as possible support the Van Gogh Alive exhibition at MediaCityUK as the art room at The Christie will benefit from the charitable proceeds generated by it.
“The artist who runs the room at The Christie, Pat Mountford, is a brilliant teacher and a great artist in her own right. She takes us through very useful techniques and the ways in which we can make the best of our art. But above all else, she encourages us to have fun and enjoy the art, as that’s the most important thing. Amazing stuff comes out of us and the room because of her.”

Julie Colville painting in the style of Van Gogh

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that patients like Julie are currently undertaking art classes at home led by The Christie’s artist in residence, Pat Mountford, who manages the art room and classes. Pat also supports Christie staff by providing art classes for employees at the Trust.

Pat, who has worked at The Christie since 2004, has been helping patients learn about the techniques used by Van Gogh and has been delivering online classes to help patients create their own artworks in the style of Van Gogh.

The artworks created by the patients will be exhibited in The Christie and one will be chosen to go for auction at The Van Gogh Alive exhibition with the proceeds supporting the new art room at The Christie.

Pat said: “With the support of The Christie charity and The Van Gogh Alive exhibition we will be completely refurbishing the art room with an extension and an outside area. It’s a very exciting project and will be a huge benefit to our patients.
“Cancer can be physically devastating, but it is emotionally draining too. This is why the art room service at The Christie is so important. Many of our patients say that coping with the emotional effects of cancer, can be as hard – if not harder – than dealing with the physical effects of treatment such as nausea and fatigue.
“The art room at The Christie has helped many of our patients cope with these effects. They may never have picked up a brush before, but it's somewhere they can escape, and be with others who understand what they're going through. It does something medicine cannot do - it helps them to regain confidence and become their self again.
“We want more of our patients to benefit from the sense of community and support that the art room brings. As part of the project, we will also be investing in new materials such as paints and easels and decorating the art room to make it a welcoming place for patients who want to participate in classes or simply create their own artworks while they are with us.”

Marie Toller, head of major relationships at The Christie charity, said: “We are thrilled that Van Gogh Alive has chosen The Christie as its charity partner for its time in Salford at MediaCityUK. The Christie relies on the support and donations from the public. We have chosen our art room project as the specific project to benefit from the monies raised by The Van Gogh Alive exhibition.”

The Van Gogh Alive exhibition at MediaCityUK will be an immersive multi-sensory art exhibition exhibiting the life and work of the seminal Dutch artist. It opened on 22 October 2021 and runs until 23 January 2022. 

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to make a donation to The Christie charity when purchasing tickets, in the exhibition shop where proceeds from sales of pencils, biscuits and colouring books will be donated to the art room refurbishment project and at digital donation pods located around the exhibition space.

Supporters can donate to the art room at The Christie online.

The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.