Thursday, 31 March 2011

Inspiring evening

That was a big night out! Yesterday Jane and I went to the Private View of the Incurable Optimism exhibition in the beautiful Natural Museum in Oxford. Personally I think it's one of the best buildings in Oxford. Victorian neo-gothic at its lightest and most pleasing, welcome relief from all those olde-worlde piles that adorn Oxford's streets - to say nothing of its fascinating contents.

The exhibition which runs to 6th May is of the first 18 paintings of his projected 100 by Patrick Joyce, an artist who has aggressive MND. Patrick the optimist's website. You can see the portraits of people who've inspired him on his website, and the short films he's also made. They include his consultant, Martin Turner, carers like his wife and fellow sufferers of MND including Stephen Hawking. Patrick wants to have reached the 100 before he dies.
Patrick Joyce, the artist

That's half of the exhibition. The other half focuses on the cutting-edge research carried on by the MND team in Oxford, to do with finding a biomarker for diagnosis of MND (The BioMOx project). The BioMOx project has already found a "finger print" which can be detected by sophisticated MRI scans. It's led by Martin Turner. If you want to understand more about the human and scientific impact of the disease, here's a very good place to start - with no admission charge of course.
A good number of our Oxfordshire friends were there, most of us in our wheelchairs. Professor Colin Blakemore opened the exhibition, followed by Martin Turner explaining his research and his friendship with Patrick, who then also said a little. There was bubbly and juice and a host of canapés. Only shame restrained me! I met up again with Matt Jones (Blog:1st February) whose mother, Lorraine, was diagnosed last autumn. You may remember he was intending to run the Reading Half-Marathon to raise money for the MNDA. His target then was £500. He's since run it, and raised over £5,000 with more coming in. He told me about someone whose aim was to raise £100,000 in ten years; he still has some years to go but has already topped £70,000. I also met a friend's husband who is off to China for a week to walk along the Great Wall (not all 5,500 miles of it!) to raise money.
Jane, Moira & Jean

Mel, MNDA communications, & Jean, trustee

I suppose the severity and mystery of MND, as well as its relative rarity (compared for example with cancer), provokes urgency in those involved in any way to find its causes and treatments for it. I've commented before on the positive friendships that exist between MND patients. Anyway, as darkness fell outside, I remembered to take some photos before we descended in the lift and wended our way home.
Exhibition stands with great hall behind
PS If you come on Easter Saturday afternoon, you might find Jane and me manning the exhibition.


  1. Liked reading about the exhibition, Michael, sounds very interesting. I thought the picture of the flowers was beautiful - isn't it a wonderful time of year? Jen x

  2. Sounds brilliant Dad, will have to check it out next time we're down your way. Much love to you and Mum x