Adversity and hope part of life’s canvas

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian

Two-and-a-half years ago, Gordon MacLeod had a stroke which left him in a coma for 16 days.

Doctors told MacLeod he was lucky to be alive but the chances of him walking, talking and moving on his own were extremely limited.

But in the face of adversity, MacLeod picked up a paintbrush and began painting.

In the past 13 months the 51-year-old has devoted more of his time to painting, taking part in art classes at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre.

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“For the one or two hours I spend painting I’m away from myself,” he said.

“I leave my body, so to speak, and travel through my left arm onto the canvas.

“I don’t know why I like it so much; I don’t know how to mix colours, I don’t know how to do this or that but I’m learning.”

Before his stroke, MacLeod worked at Paint ‘N Quip as a storeman.

Although he appreciated art, he was unable to paint.

He never thought he’d be an artist but several of his artworks have now sold, including his entry into the Mid West Art Prize, All Alone, which depicts a lighthouse against a stormy sky.

“I draw lighthouses more than anything else,” he said.

“They’re long tall buildings with a light, shining hope for any ship that goes past.

“But it’s not about the lighthouse; there’s a little bit of blue (sky), and that just means through all the bad adversity, there’s a bit of hope.”

With the help of wife Noeleen, MacLeod has worked hard over the years to get out of his wheelchair and walk again. He’s hoping to walk from Geraldton to Perth in November next year.

Despite his determination, MacLeod said every day was still a struggle.

“I’m trapped in a body I don’t want, that’s the hardest thing,” he said.

“I wake up in the morning and I wish I could go back to bed and stay there.

“But I get my walking stick and stand up, and start moving.”

MacLeod is hoping to run a support group for stroke survivors in the Mid West.

* If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 131114.

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