Critically acclaimed artworks by brain injury survivors go on show at Shoreditch Library

The Barbican exhibition earned five-star reviews. Photograph: courtesy Headway

Artworks by members of a local brain injury charity are now on display in Shoreditch Library after a highly regarded exhibition at the Barbican.

The pieces are by people who receive support from Headway East London, and were created for an art trail designed to celebrate the creativity of those living with brain injury.

Shoreditch is the third leg of the trail, titled differently various in different spaces, which started in Newham before moving to University College Hospital on Euston Road. The fourth and final location will be the entrance of Westminster City Hall.

The idea behind the project is to showcase neurodiverse art alongside the personal stories of Headway members.

One of the artists whose work can be found at Shoreditch Library is Hackney resident Dolores Crump.

Crump has been a member of Headway since 2007, and worked as a nurse for 30 years.

After retiring, she started experiencing seizures, and was diagnosed with multiple brain tumours.

She said: “They told me the tumours were like oranges in Seville.”

Headway’s artists pose in front of some of their paintings. Photograph: courtesy Headway

At Headway, Dolores was encouraged to try painting in the charity’s Submit to Love art studios.

Her brain tumours cause impaired vision, but this hasn’t stopped her crafting large-scale paintings using just her hands.

Crump is also the founder of a charity book club for mothers and children at her church, and she has continued this work since her brain injury.

She added: “I did my first paintings, and people actually liked and bought them. I was shocked. Now every time I sell one, I use some of the money to buy presents for the children.”

The Shoreditch Library exhibition brings together Crump’s passions for art and reading.

“I know how important reading is – even if you don’t understand everything, it gives you ideas and you develop them over time,” she said.

“I like to help children because they’re the future.”

Visitors to the library will be greeted by vivid sculptures of I all screwed up by Jason Ferry, and will discover members’ stories in Survivor’s Corner – a relaxing space of curated films and text artworks.

Survivors’ stories have been embroided onto banners. Photograph: courtesy Headway

Personal accounts of brain injury have also been embroidered into banners, and guests can also listen to podcasts featuring survivors’ stories in their own words.

The art trail brings these creations, which previously received glowing reviews at the Barbican Centre, into local communities, giving people a glimpse into the colour, chaos, and creativity that define daily life at Headway.

Every year in the UK, 350,000 people are admitted to hospital with an acquired brain injury sustained through illness or injury.

Headway supports over 800 survivors of brain injury each year.

Claire Stone, Headway’s public engagement and communications manager, said: “We are excited to be sharing the beautiful artwork from our critically acclaimed differently various exhibition in new spaces on this tour, bringing it into the heart of the communities we serve.

“As a charity, we support people living with brain injury across 13 London boroughs, and we want to ensure that people in each borough know that our services are here to support them, their families and carers when they are in need.

“We also want to showcase the incredible creativity of our community, which is a home to artists, chefs, musicians and writers – and that with the right support, anyone with a brain injury can flourish.”

differently various in different spaces is on display at Shoreditch Library until 24 July 2024.

A full programme of exhibitions and events is available on the Headway East London website.