Artistry for epilepsy

Artistry for epilepsy

Paul Smith has been battling epilepsy since he was four and says more people need to be made aware of the condition. Photograph – Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne.

More than 160 prominent and emerging artists from across the country joined forces to raise funds for people living with epilepsy, donating original artworks to the online Art for Epilepsy auction.

Almost $140,000 worth of art was donated to the Epilepsy Action Australia auction, which opened on February 14 until March 26.

All the pieces featured the colour purple, the internationally recognised colour for the illness.

Mount Nasura resident Paul Smith has been living with epilepsy since the age of four but it did not affect him until after he had left Lumen Christi College in Gosnells.

“I was fine in high school,” he said.

“But it was towards the end of high school when my epilepsy progressively got worse.”

Mr Smith had his first seizure at the age of 18.

He said he blacked out and when he came to there were people standing around him but he had no idea what had happened.

“A lot of people don’t know much about what a seizure looks like,” he said.

“It’s not always convulsing and frothing at the mouth.

“One thing you should never ever do is stick your fingers in someone’s mouth if they are having an epileptic attack because they could bite down hard on the person’s finger and it is also a choking hazard.”

Mr Smith observed Epilepsy Awareness Week earlier this year and said he encouraged more people to learn about the condition.

Epilepsy Action Australia ambassador Mia Oatley said she was proud and excited to be involved in the online art auction.

“I’ve lived with epilepsy myself for over 20 years,” she said.

“I understand the difficulties that people affected by epilepsy face every day.

“It’s so important that we share our stories and help to break down some of those really frustrating misconceptions about the condition.

“As an artist I’m also really excited that the auction provided exposure to some of the bright up-and-coming stars of our vibrant Australian art community.”

Epilepsy Action Australia chief executive officer Carol Ireland said epilepsy was the world’s most common serious brain condition however community awareness and understanding remained frustratingly low.

“Our aim is to raise awareness of the impact of this often debilitating condition and to support people living with epilepsy to lead optimal lives,” she said.

“Art for Epilepsy plays an important role in helping us to raise enough funds to do that effectively.”

There were 250,000 people affected by epilepsy across the country who were in need of specialist services.

Funds raised from the online art auction would go towards epilepsy support programs.