Being creative helps me deal with illness’

A RETIRED academic struggling with the onset of Parkinson s disease is putting on his first exhibition of paintings in Hampstead

Josie Hinton

A RETIRED academic struggling with the onset of Parkinson's disease is putting on his first exhibition of paintings in Hampstead.

Peter Horne has battled for the past eight years with Parkinson's, but this has not stopped him concentrating on honing his artistic skills.

The 66-year-old had led a successful career lecturing in cultural studies and art history but was forced into early retirement when he developed the disease.

Since then he has relied on his love of painting to help him through the lowest moments and is now holding a solo exhibition in Burgh House.

"Depression is a big problem for people with Parkinson's disease, but being able to be creative can be very helpful," he said.

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"I find that if I'm able to paint it lifts me out of my depression.

"I have good patches and bad patches which really affect my work. Some days I'm not able to paint at all because of my illness, other days I can manage an hour or an hour and a half.

"Lately I've been having real trouble sleeping, so I'll often find myself working late into the night."

Mr Horne was interested in art as a young man but went on to pursue a career in academia, beginning his lectures at Brighton College of Art. He then became a tutor in cultural studies at the University of East London where he specialised in aesthetics and art history.

He began painting in his holidays but his hectic career gave him little time to concentrate on his creative pastime.

It was only after his retirement that he found the time he needed to develop as an artist.

"Because I'm so often tied to the home I've developed a real interest in domestic things," he said of his work.

"This, combined with a real love for the art of still life, has led me to develop the fruit images."

His exhibition, entitled Every Fruit has its Secret after a quote from a D H Lawrence poem, is a series of still-life oil paintings.

It opened yesterday and will run until Monday May 5 at the house in New End Square.

Despite his academic studies Mr Horne, who works from home in Highbury, is self-taught as a painter.

And when he is not painting he is a member of a choir for Parkinson's sufferers. The choir, called Sing for Joy, meet every week in Patshull Road in Kentish Town.