Nomas* Projects / Art, Dundee

Dec, 2023

Cosmic Madonna


All four of us artists have a brain injury and are members of a supported studio called Submit to Love, a supported studio that is part of Headway East London. Headway and the Barbican London mounted a major well received exhibition at the Barbican’s Curve Gallery in July and August 2023. All of us had artworks in this exhibition and also were part of steering group very involved in the curation of the exhibition.

CHRIS MILLER, had a stroke 11 years ago, which affected the right side of his body, his walking, his writing hand and his ability to speak. Before this he was a science teacher, a youth and community worker for a local authority, Frontier Youth Trust and the United Reformed Church. Before his stroke art was something he was told at secondary school he wasn’t good at. After his stroke, though, through Submit to Love, he took up making art using pottery and acrylic paint, and has had artwork in various Submit to Love exhibitions over the past 9 years.

MIKE ANTHONY HOYLE In 1983, I was 18 years old and living in a small Yorkshire village. I was spending a year building up my photographic portfolio, before studying for a degree in photography. I was riding a motorbike, that was involved in an accident, which left me in a coma for six weeks.

After my brain injury, when I came round in Leeds General hospital I became confused and disruptive, believing I was in prison for something I could not remember. Had I killed someone? Nobody would tell me. I was on strong anti-epileptic medication which made me slow and drowsy. I remember throwing a television out of the window because I could not turn it off.

I went on an arts foundation course in York art school, but I could not concentrate, so I returned to my Yorkshire village, and photographed and printed an exhibition about motorcycle culture for the Spectro Gallery in Newcastle-upon-tyne, and living in the Dales for The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, Cumbria.

In 1984 I came to London to do my Film and Photography Degree, and later at Headway East London I joined with other brain injury survivors in exhibitions at the Autograph gallery in Shoreditch and plasticine sculptures at the Differently Various exhibition Barbican Curve Gallery (2023).

In London I went on various rehabilitation courses for people with brain injuries, and here it was suggested I followed a religion, so I became a Quaker. This gave my life meaning and focus, and I exhibited my photographs at the Quaker Centre, and I later published a book of photographs called WIDER VISIONS with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

MIKE POOLE was a trained graphic designer in content marketing until his stroke in 2015. Headway then gave him the opportunity to paint, where his creativity was sparked by a client brief. Now he looks at an empty canvas with a rough idea of the texture and colours he wants to explore, then he sees what happens. Since his stroke he has completed an art foundation course, has had two solo exhibitions, He is looking for a gallery in 2024, and is a practicing Anglican.

BILLY MANN was a magazine journalist – first at the NME and later at the Guardian. When he had a stroke 10 years ago he started to make art at the Submit to Love studio, where he has experimented with various art practices but found his niche in digital painting using an iPad. More recently, he has started drawing with stitch, featuring in exhibitions at the Barbican, Autograph and Burgh House galleries in London. He sits on the Advisory Board of Art et Al (an organisation dedicated to the promotion of neurodiverse art) and runs the Golden Lane Stitchers group in his community in central London.


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Cosmic Madonna