Our exhibition ‘Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings‘ has just closed, but we have a few more contemporary votive illustrations to share with you, 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, these contemporary stories of gratitude involve an exchange between storyteller and illustrator.
Marta Wawryszuk’s latest illustration is for this story:
My sister and I were playing in the sea with an inflatable ‘lilo’ (or bed) and we were joined by my father, who could not swim at all. The tide appeared to be going out again very quickly while we were playing on the lilo. My father took his turn on the lilo, and my sister and I found that we were very quickly out of our depth. We couldn’t reach him, and he sat frozen with fear on the lilo. In a panic, we both ran back to the beach to tell our mother and others on the beach. Some of them tried to swim out to reach him, but he was out too far. Eventually, someone called a lifeboat, which appeared like a vision across the sea. It moved gently towards my father and the lifeguards lifted him onto the boat. When it reached the shore, my father was pale, speechless and shaking. He was given a sugary cup of milky tea. We were all shocked but so relieved and grateful that he was back with us.
Chris Driscoll, Clacton-on-Sea, 1985. For God, people who are lifeguards and the goodness of ordinary people.