MEET MELANIE CAPLE
26 FEBRUARY 2021
Melanie is an artist. She splits her time between Melbourne’s inner north and regional Victoria, maximizing time with family. Melanie’s long held desire for art and creative practice led her to travel abroad, study Fine Art Painting at RMIT in Melbourne and exhibit regularly. She’s worked for over a decade in commercial galleries.
Melanie says, “When I was diagnosed with MS, it wasn't a slow realisation that something was wrong, but instead I had quite a big relapse over five days.”
After the relapse that led to her MS diagnosis, Melanie had to rebuild the strength and dexterity in her right hand to enable her to continue to paint. Melanie’s MS symptoms had a devastating impact on her quality of life as she had to manage weakness, pain, tingling, painful scalp sensitivity and brain spasms.
“I went from being completely fine to having painful brain spasms, tingling and loss of strength in my right leg and complete loss of dexterity and strength in my right arm.”
For Melanie, MS stopped everything.
“As a right-handed painter, suddenly not being able to write my name or cut my food was terrifying.”
Thankfully, the treatment she received helped return her ability back to around 85%, and from then it's then been a long process of learning… Melanie has learned how to paint so that her arm doesn't tire, how to hold brushes differently and how to approach self-care with rest and regular breaks.
Melanie’s dream is to expand her art business and adapt to the digital art world.
Thanks to the MS Go for Gold Scholarship, Melanie was able to purchase a new drawing tablet and laptop device to enable her digital artforms to become a reality! Melanie is excited to have the ability to swing between the physical and digital art worlds and knows it will have a positive impact on her practice and her body. She is now able to continue to create artwork that enhances people's lives, including her own.
“I’ve come a long way over the last 12 months, from initially not being able to write my name, to now being able to paint murals again.”
“I’ve always knew how hard the MS community worked to raise money for support, services and research, but it was really inspiring seeing scholarships go to people living with MS and positively impact their lives in a really tangible way,” says Melanie.
“MS Go for Gold Scholarship has allowed me the opportunity to update my computer and illustration software, so that I can draw digitally instead of having to create everything from scratch in a laborious way. Being awarded a scholarship was like a dream come true!”
CONNECTIONS / DISCONNECTIONS
Life with Multiple Sclerosis is experienced through connections. The irony is that living with MS is about adapting to a body beset by disconnections.
While our bodies fail to do some things we used to take for granted, the connections to our family and friends grow stronger as they rally and provide support.
We form new connections with skilled and passionate medical professionals who care for us as they endeavour to understand and treat this disease.
We seek and find connections within MS support organisations such as MS Limited.
We forge connections with others who have MS, a broad and disparate group of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds. Even though everyone with MS experiences this disease differently, no one else truly understands what it means to live with MS, making this new peer group invaluable.
Most importantly, we also find new connections within ourselves: we find the strength to learn how to go about life a little differently.
For all of this, MS is also inherently about disconnections – about living with missed connections in the layers that protect our nerves. It is fundamentally about coming to terms with these disconnections and their potential to be debilitating.
For all that though, the connections we make are significantly more powerful than disconnections we have no control over.
In my painting Connections/Disconnections I have used foliage shadows that have been broken and are missing elements alongside vibrant, lush elements from our Australian landscape. The disconnections are dark, while the rest of the painting is bright and enduring. In the midst of it all, two swallows fly, forever connected within this painted montage.
Artist, 2020 Go for Gold Award Recipient, living with multiple sclerosis