The artist who lost his sight, but not his vision!

31st March 2017

Arthur Ellis’ lifetime hobby and interest is art. He has created many pieces ranging from portraits and ink drawings to surrealist pictures. However, in 2006 Arthur contracted meningitis which left him partially deaf and totally blind. You may think that this would have put an end to his artistic creations – but you couldn’t be more wrong…

Arthur

Arthur was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and enjoyed drawing from an early age. His family were really impressed with his work and could see that he had natural talent and a flair for all things arty.

In the late 60’s Arthur studied the discipline gaining a diploma in Art and Design. Unfortunately he never quite managed to make a living from his artwork, instead taking on private portrait commissions and enjoying his hobby by creating surreal pieces.

Everything was going great for Arthur, he was happily married, dad to three boys and finding time in his busy life to focus on his hobby, which ‘kept him sane!’ Little did he know what was waiting for him around the corner.

At 59-years-old Arthur contracted meningitis. He said: “I had an intense pain in my forehead, so intense I felt like I was going to collapse – and finally I did. Luckily it was in the GP’s surgery.”

Disabilities

Arthur spent nine months in various hospitals recovering from the disease, but unfortunately he was left with permanent disabilities including, total blindness, partial deafness, loss of balance and no sense of smell.

Arthur also now suffers from Charles Bonnet Syndrome – a condition caused by blindness, where his mind conjures up surreal images. He said:  “sometimes the images are scary. I know they are not real but they are very lifelike.”

It was a challenging time for Arthur, who found it difficult to come to terms with the after effects of meningitis. He said: “It was very hard to deal with these problems all at once. I wasn’t quite ready for the secondary illnesses after my long recovery from meningitis.

“Losing my sight and part of my hearing was devastating. It felt like a great loss had to be overcome - otherwise the loss could become even greater.”

Starting again

Arthur was determined not to let his experience and disabilities stop him from enjoying the hobby he loved. He started painting again whilst he was in rehabilitation, six months after collapsing. His sons gave him his sketchbook and unbeknown to Arthur he continued drawing on a page where he had started a portrait, before he contracted meningitis. Arthur said: “You can imagine the nurse’s surprise and reaction as to how a totally blind person could have drawn such a picture! For a while they didn’t believe I had no sight!”

Arthur now paints daily, using a variety of techniques and materials. He said: “I try to make sense of the images I ‘see’ as a result of my Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Now When I paint I have a device which reads aloud pre-recorded labels to help me identity materials and colours, so it’s not as difficult as you might first think.”

Arthur has managed to remain positive and optimistic, and hopes to inspire others who may be living with the after effects of meningitis to not give up on the things they once enjoyed. He said: “Don’t give up, keep following your passions. The more determined you are, the better the results. You will need patience to adapt to a new way of life, but you will learn and you will get through the tough times.”

 To take a look at Arthur’s incredible pre and post sight-loss artwork, visit his website at: www.blindartist.co.uk