To accompany our current exhibition ‘Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings‘, we’ve been working with professional illustrators to produce contemporary votive illustrations based on stories submitted by visitors to Wellcome Collection and to our website. Just as Mexican ex-voto paintings were made by painters to tell stories of thanks, we want to hear contemporary stories of gratitude and explore the process of exchange between storyteller and illustrator.
Melanie Winning’s first votive illustration is for this story submitted at Wellcome Collection:
My mother was diagnosed with secondary cancer last December. The doctors didn’t know where the primary tumour was (bad news as we quickly found out) and it wasn’t operable. They didn’t say anything very precise, except that it was serious; I heard ‘months’, my mother ‘years.’ One doctor tried to be philosophical (and helpful), citing the adage ‘Don’t put off anything you want to do, live every day as if…’ Through talking to friends we heard about another doctor, different hospital. We wrote to him. When we saw this very charismatic doctor and his colleagues, it was a surprising – and transformatory – experience. My mother ended up having an operation and more chemotherapy. They removed as much of the cancer as they could. There is a 50% chance of it returning. My mother has a glass half full mentality so this is prognosis is rather apt – and very encouraging, considering the news last December. The latest scan shows no sign of cancer. We could not be more thankful to all those concerned. Whatever happens, we are thankful for the here and now.
Fiona Holland, London. 2010–2011. For Professor Martin Gore and his team, and the surgeons at the Royal Marsden.
Could your gratitude inspire a votive? Tell us your story, and it could form the basis for an illustration.