Critical Path: B.C. artist draws through her pain

Critical Path: B.C. artist draws through her pain

WATCH: What does an acclaimed author and artist do when she learns she has an incurable brain disease?

Karen McLaughlin, in the middle of daily pain on a scale of 7 to 9.5 (out of 10) took up her pen and pencil and began to draw.

“I had just been at the Vancouver Writers Festival, and had launched a book that had taken me a long time to write,” says McLaughlin.

That was in 2009.

“Ten days later, I woke up in the middle of the night with a deep piercing ear pain – unbelievable kind of pain. And that was the beginning of something I’d never heard of, that was trigeminal neuralgia and glossopharyngeal neuralgia.”

The excruciating pain would come and go.

In simplified terms, arteries at her brain stem are wrapped around cranial nerves.

“Pain just takes over all the areas of your brain if it can. The pain can go as close to ten as I ever want to describe it.”

Five years after the pain began, McLaughlin had surgery, which helped somewhat.

“I still live with it. It’s still there.”

And so McLaughlin, who has a fine arts degree, turned to drawing.

“In every moment, if I’m focused on the mark I’m making, then that’s one moment that I’m not focused on the pain.”

Martin Batchelor, the owner of the gallery which is hosting the exhibit, says McLaughlin’s work is “quite conceptual, in that it isn’t always what you first think it is when you look at it.

“There’s a very high skill involved here, and I think it will make an interesting exhibition.”

Critical Path at the Martin Batchelor Gallery continues until Nov. 30.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!