Art helps while 'waiting for God'

16:00, Feb 06 2014
John Wright’s portrait of two Ulysses Motorcycle Club members.

As a teenager John Wright met the love of his life in hospital.

He was there to have part of his left lung removed and Maureen was there to have part of her right lung cut out. The couple, with their opposing scars, were the perfect pair.

Fifty-three years later they found themselves back in hospital facing news that will eventually tear them away from each other - Mr Wright has terminal liver cancer.

LONG LOVE: Maureen and John Wright face their biggest battle yet. John uses art as an outlet for coping with his terminal prognosis.

The Dannemora resident was diagnosed with the disease three years ago and the couple fought hard to get on top of it.

He passed the countless hours of chemotherapy doing drawings of nurses, doctors, receptionists, or anyone game enough to be photographed.

"I was the artist of oncology," he says.


"I used to take an outline of a drawing and then my coloured pencils and colour in much to the amusement of the staff and patients."

He says all his art is done with the simple colouring-in pencil and while people may think of it as a kids' activity his art is no child's play.

"My 40-odd years as a colour matcher/mixer gives my drawings that bit more edge, I can get the colours just right."

In December 2012 he had a CT scan that showed the tumour in his liver had shrunk to almost nothing but four months later the situation took a grim turn.

Mrs Wright says it was his art that helped him when the doctors handed down the terminal prognosis.

"The actual feeling was worse than when we first knew that he had cancer," she says.

"To actually go into the office thinking there might be good news or that they were able to do something else and then to be told that there was nothing more they could do - we were just shell shocked, we couldn't comprehend it, we couldn't think ‘this is the end'."

Mr Wright says "it was like a punch in the guts".

"If it wasn't for my London humour, for Maureen and for my drawings it would be a bloody miserable time," he says.

"But it is no good just sitting here waiting for God."

And so armed with his collection of more than 300 colouring pencils he draws portraits of people as a therapeutic outlet.

Mr Wright who belongs to the Ulysses Motorcycle Club and is motorcycle mad has just finished a portrait of one of the club members.

"He has known me for years and years and they were just blown away when I showed them. They had never seen this side of me."

He says not only does drawing keep him positive but the reaction he gets when he shows people his drawings also revitalises him.

He hopes that can be turned in to the gift of time.

"I am hoping this cancer doesn't rob me of my 50th wedding anniversary in September."

Eastern Courier