Contemporary votive illustrations: Emotionally unscathed

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.

Polly Alizarin Harvey: Emotionally unscathed

Polly Alizarin Harvey: Emotionally unscathed

Polly Alizarin Harvey’s latest illustration is for this story:

I dislocated my head from my neck as a child (subluxation of c1 and c2 vertebrae), so I spent years in an adult orthopaedic hospital (without any paediatricians or children’s ward decorations!) and after many operations I was fixed! I was at risk of being paralysed from the neck down but I am not and I actually have almost no physical limitations (I can’t do extreme sports but that’s about it). My parents were tempted to try all sorts of ‘other’ therapies like spiritual healers and good luck charms but they never did. They had to believe in the surgeons and the NHS. My parents gave me normality, they were always completely positive and I came away emotionally unscathed! I became a paediatrician because I liked hospitals so much!

NP, Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital, 1989–91. For my mum and dad, for their unbelievable strength.

You can find out more about Polly Alizarin Harvey’s work and explore more votive illustrations on the Wellcome Collection website.

Could your gratitude inspire a votive? Tell us your story, and it could form the basis for an illustration.

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