Sharing the love of art for epilepsy on Valentine’s Day

NSW Artist Mia Oatley14th February famously marks the celebration honouring the patron saint of love, St. Valentine. Yet it is lesser known that St. Valentine is, importantly, also the patron saint of epilepsy.

Recognising this, and to share the love this Valentine’s Day, an online art auction featuring almost 40 artists, prominent and up and coming, across Australia will go live to raise much needed funds for people living with epilepsy – and provide art lovers a rare opportunity to snare some very special artworks.

Prominent Sydney Artist Mia Oatley, best known for her bold and colourful works on canvas, will be proudly participating in the auction, and highlights the calibre of artworks that will be on display. Mia has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize, Mossman Prize, Portia Geach, Waverley Art Prize, and Salon Des Refuses, and has been exhibited and collected enthusiastically Australia-wide and internationally.

Mia understands the challenges that people with epilepsy face, having been diagnosed with focal epilepsy at the age of 15. She has been living with her condition for the past 23 years whilst travelling the world, making lots of art and getting ready to become a first time mum. She believes the auction is important for breaking down stigma in the community in a positive way.

“As an artist living with epilepsy, I understand the challenges of living with the condition and the importance of bringing it out of the shadows,” said Mia. “Living with seizures is difficult, but the widespread misunderstanding about epilepsy makes it more challenging. I’m keen for people to know that it is entirely possible and very common to have a full and vibrant life whilst living with epilepsy.”

The Art for Epilepsy online auction was established by Epilepsy Action Australia, the largest provider of education and support services to children and adults with epilepsy across Australia, and will mark the start of their Purple Day activities – with the auction closing on Purple Day itself – 26 March.

Purple Day is a grassroots effort dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy worldwide and was named after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender. Keeping with the purple theme, artists have been requested to feature purple in their artworks in someway.

“Epilepsy is the world’s most common serious brain condition,” says Carol Ireland, CEO Epilepsy Action Australia In Australia alone it is estimated that over 250,000 Australians are living with epilepsy and approximately 800,000 Australians will experience the unpredictable and often debilitating effect of epilepsy at some point in their lives.”

“Sadly, all too often people living with epilepsy face stigma due to lack of community understanding, or don’t access the support that is available. Our aim is to support people with epilepsy to live optimal lives. This auction, and our Purple Day activities over the coming months, will be an important contribution towards raising awareness and breaking down misperceptions in the community. There are many ways to take part – I would like to encourage as many people to get involved.”

A broad range of artists are taking part in the initiative. Fine artists, abstract artists, water colourists, illustrators and mixed media artists including: Mia Oatley, Michael Weitnauer, Erin Whitty, James Ainslie, Katie Mckinnon, Gabby Malpas, Marie Schlederer, Helen Treuel, Jacqui Macumber, Tony Walkerand Claire Wee plus many more.

“I love the auction’s connection between St Valentine, love and art – what a beautiful way to bring the community together and highlight this important issue. It is also a great opportunity for people to get some quality art!” added Mia.

To participate in the auction, people can pre-register at: www.artforepilepsy.com.au or jump online from 14 February. The auction will close on Purple Day – 26 March at midnight. For more information about Purple Day, visit: www.epilepsy.org.au/purple-day for details.

Image: Artist Mia Outley in front of one of her earlier works (supplied)

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