The art of saving lives
A local artist, Natalie Abadzis, has raised money for King’s Helipad through selling artwork from her successful exhibition, ‘Break your fall’, in thanks to the hospital for saving her life.
Natalie has endometriosis, a chronic condition which causes women severely painful and heavy periods. She has consequently undergone three operations at King’s since 2012; the last one emergency stomach surgery and a transfusion of 19 pints of blood after suffering a massive haemorrhage for the third time that week.
‘When they rushed me to theatre and I was semi-conscious, I was aware of just how many staff were involved with trying to save my life,’ says Natalie. ‘When I was at my most vulnerable and my lowest ebb, people just kept the kindness and the reinforcement that they were doing all they could – that speaks volumes.
‘The kindness and respect I’ve received from the staff at King’s has always been amazing. That’s why I wanted to do something; I know it’s only small, but it’s something. It feels like a good continuity for me as an artist to have been able to do this.’
The exhibition features recurring themes of the cycle of life and death, chronic illness, the everyday, joy and acceptance: ideas which Natalie says have been influenced by her personal experiences. Many of the artworks incorporate hospital imagery, much of which is from photos Natalie took on her phone during her ten days at King’s.
‘I found some of the photographs quite beautiful in their own way, there’s a certain sense of solace in them,’ she says. ‘Ultimately there’s a big aspect of the exhibition that’s about showing gratitude. That underpins the context of the exhibition and underpins who I am as a person. Without the staff at King’s I wouldn’t be alive, it’s as simple as that. The gratitude is also about fundraising; it’s my way of showing support to my local hospital.’
‘Break your fall’ ran for almost five weeks in autumn 2014. Natalie donated 20% of each artwork sold, raising a fantastic £375 for the Helipad Appeal.
‘As I’m a local, I run round Ruskin Park and I often see the helicopters land in the park, people coming off the helicopters and into the ambulances,’ explains Natalie. ‘Having been rushed to hospital in an ambulance, I feel closely connected to the fact that time is of the essence. Those minutes saved by the helipad might help to save somebody’s life quicker.’
As well as her fundraising, Natalie also took part in a six month clinical trial to test a new pain drug for endometriosis sufferers – another way of giving back to King’s, as well as trying to fight against the condition that’s affected her life so strongly.
‘If you’ve had a positive experience somewhere, then why not help support it?’ she says. ‘You’ve got to be honest and real about why you’re doing it. If you tell people your own personal story, that helps. I would happily do something else for King’s; I’ve just got to work out what.’
We are grateful to supporters like Natalie who have helped make our helipad a reality.