Muswell Hill’s battery powered artist

Reg Boorer often describes himself as lucky. He is lucky he loves art. He is lucky he has his studio. He is lucky his Parkinson’s illness isn’t worse.

Most people who are diagnosed with a lifelong degenerative condition would be forgiven for being a little less upbeat, but that is not Mr Boorer’s style.

The “battery powered artist”, who lives with his wife and teenage daughter in Dukes Avenue, Muswell Hill, has put together a new exhibition of his paintings – produced since he underwent deep brain stimulation surgery two years ago.

In the operation, two titanium rods with electrodes are inserted through the brain, and are wired up to a battery pack hidden under his skin on his chest.

By triggering electrical charges, Mr Boorer is able to control his movements and alleviate his tremors – hence his nickname.

Pointing to the large orange armchair he is sitting in, Mr Boorer said: “I had a guy come here about 18 months ago who couldn’t sit in this chair.

“His arms and legs were moving around all over the place.

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“It didn’t really strike me that I might not be able to use my right arm or draw until fairly recently. That was a scary thought. But I think doing what I do, the art, helps quite a lot.

“Drawing portraits is good therapy because you are always looking into yourself and trying to transcribe that onto a piece of paper.”

A graduate in graphic design from the London College of Printing, Mr Boorer worked as a designer and communications officer for charities.

But it was only when he gave up work and his Parkinson’s escalated that he returned to his first love – art.

His new exhibition pulls together paintings of plants and portraits he has been working on over the past two years.

Perhaps the most thought provoking among them is a self portrait he sketched by torchlight the evening after his surgery.

“After my operation I was in bed and couldn’t sleep and it was two in the morning,” said Mr Boorer.

“I was covered in bandages and there were wires coming out of my head.

“I pulled my little mirror out and did a little drawing of myself.

“The next morning the whole team, neurosurgeons, therapists, around ten people were around me.

“They were gobsmacked somebody could have managed to draw something the night after the operation. It signalled something to them.

“It is only small but it is very poignant. I dredged it up from somewhere deep inside me.”

Reg Boorer, Nature Studies, is showing at The Gallery Boulangerie Bon Matin in Tollington Park until Wednesday, November 30.