21 Jun 2018

TASC thanks epileptic artist for auctioning painting in aid of charity

An artist who has struggled with epilepsy for almost 20 years has thanked the paramedics who continuously helped him by auctioning a painting in aid of TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity.

Ben Duarri decided to sell the artwork, which raised £200 for TASC, to commemorate two years without a seizure. He set the painting, which he entitled ‘Paris in the Purple Rain’, in the French capital because that is where 40-year-old Ben had his first seizure in 1998.

The name ‘Purple Rain’, which appears in the 17 inch by 17 inch painting, was chosen as the theme for the piece partly in tribute to pop singer Prince, who was also epileptic during his early childhood. It also reflected the colour of Ben’s purple pills, and marked Purple Day on March 26, which seeks to increase awareness about epilepsy around the world.

Ben, from Louth in Lincolnshire, said: “I had my first epileptic seizure in 1998 on a train to Paris. I spent a week thinking what on earth happened. I didn’t know what was going on as I’d never experienced anything like this before. I just assumed it was a one-off, but then gradually the seizures started happening more frequently. My life pretty much fell apart for a while because of it. It really hammered me.

“My seizures would come in clusters, usually started by a massive one when I ended up being picked up off the floor and taken to hospital. But then I would have a load more.”

Happily, Ben’s epilepsy has significantly improved since he was put on a new medication called Epelim three years ago after moving to Lincolnshire from the South coast.

“I could never get past four months without having a seizure, but I suddenly realised on world epilepsy day that two years had passed since my last episode,” he added. “I absolutely thank my lucky stars that the seizures are over and, I thought to myself, who would I need to thank the most.

“I decided I wanted to do something for the ambulance service to show my appreciation for all they’ve done for me and the wonderful work they do. They were always fantastic, just amazing, and brilliant people. I also wanted a way of enabling people to understand my story and what I’ve been through, and what other epileptics have been through.

“I am working on a series of five different Paris designs, each of which has ten prints, making 50 in all. I wanted to do something different with the last one so I did the Purple Rain one, which is printed in white acrylic on a black card and then hand-finished in liquid acrylic ink. I did this one differently using purple because of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’, which is reflected in the painting, and because purple has always been a favourite colour of mine.

“I thought there was something different about this picture and it had a job to do. That’s when I made the connection to Purple Day about world epilepsy awareness, and made me realise it was two years since my last seizure.”

Jean Hayes, Director of Charity Operations at TASC said: “We are extremely grateful to Ben for deciding to auction one of his excellent paintings in support of the work that we carry out and the vital services we provide.”

Here is the link to Ben’s Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.duarri/posts/10155888905716072

For general information about TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity, please visit www.theasc.org.uk or call 0247 7987 922.
You can also follow TASC on Facebook at @TASC The Ambulance Staff Charity or via Twitter at @TASCharity”

Paris in the Purple Rain by Ben Duarri