Art on the back of an envelope raises funds for brain diseases

A group of Crouch End celebrities and artists take part in the National Hospital's Brain Appeal thi

A group of Crouch End celebrities and artists take part in the National Hospital's Brain Appeal this weekend to raise funds for the charity - Credit: Archant

Crouch End artists and celebrities whose lives have been affected by brain diseases take part in The National Brain Appeal’s fundraising art exhibition this weekend.

Artists and celebrities whose lives have been affected by neurological diseases take part in The National Brain Appeal's fundraising art exhibition this weekend.

Crouch End artists Mark Entwisle, Craig Barnard, his daughter Matilda Swift-Barnard, Downton Abbey and History Boys actor Stephen Campbell Moore, plus Muswell Hill designers Anita Mangan and Matthew Cooper are showing their artworks at A Letter in Mind at the Oxo Gallery. (26-29 September).

Their work is among 370 pieces available to buy for just £85, including art by Tracey Emin, Olafur Eliasson and David Shrigley, actors Jo Brand, Kevin Eldon, and Sophie Thompson

All the artworks use an envelope as a starting point and are displayed anonymously with the artist only revealed at the end of the exhibition.

Longstanding National Brain Appeal supporter, Camden actor Stephen Mangan squeezed in a visit to the exhibition before his opening night of The Man in the White Suit at Wyndham's Theatre.

His graphic designer sister Anita and illustrator brother-in-law Matthew Cooper have donated artworks for the sixth year running. Stephen and Anita's father James died from brain cancer at the age of 63 and their cousin-in-law Paul died earlier this year, aged just 45, from the same disease. Matthew lost his mother to Alzheimer's disease.

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Stephen said: "It is staggering to think that neurological diseases affect more people than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, 14.7 million people in the UK. Sadly we know the devastating impact of diseases like brain cancer and Alzheimer's on families. We also know the amazing impact that The National Brain Appeal has, supporting the doctors, surgeons and researchers at The National Hospital to provide the best treatment with state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical facilities."

He added: "I love this exhibition. You can bag an original piece of art for just £85, a Tracey Emin, an Olafur Eliasson, an Anita Mangan! Even Kevin Eldon from Hang Ups, my old C4 mate, has got in on the act. He's multitalented, so he is just rubbing my nose in it."

Father and daughter artists Craig Barnard and Matilda Swift-Barnard were among the artists responding to the theme 'Making Light Work.

Craig, whose father has Alzheimer's disease, said: "It is a very special feeling to take part in an exhibition with my daughter. My dad has had Alzheimer's for a number of years and it is heartbreaking. The National Brain Appeal devotes significant funds towards research into dementia and providing support for patients and their families."

Crouch End based actor Stephen Campbell Moore, who played teacher Tom Irwin in The History Boys and is currently playing a Republican in the Downton Abbey film, is also taking part for the second year after undergoing surgery for a benign brain tumour in 2017.

"The National Brain Appeal is a wonderful charity doing very important work," he said.

"It is a pleasure to take part in their exhibition. They have some amazing names Tracey Emin and David Shrigley.. I never thought I'd share an exhibition with them!"

Crouch End portrait painter Mark Entwisle had treatment for a brain tumour at The National Hospital in March. He had a tumour that grows on the nerve used for hearing and balance. Traditional surgery carried the risk of losing hearing in his right ear so Mark opted to have Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, which meant being in hospital for just hours.

"It was a very daunting experience," he said. "I had to be fitted with a head frame that would stop my head from moving and allow the doctor to accurately pinpoint the tumour. They then did an MRI scan to plan where to deliver the Gamma Knife surgery which took about half an hour. Afterwards they took the head frame off, and a nurse brought me pain killers that she urged me to take as quickly as possible. It was terrifying, the pain grew and grew. My head hurt so much I really didn't think I could take much more. But then, after about 20 minutes, the pain eased off."

Weeks after recovering, and by coincidence, a parent at his daughter's school asked if he would take part in A Letter in Mind. She worked at the charity and knew he was an artist but had no idea he had just been treated for a brain tumour at the hospital the charity fundraises for.

Mark said: "Somehow I thought she must have known but she didn't. I feel so grateful to all the staff at The National Hospital and donating two artworks is a perfect way for me to show my gratitude."

A Letter in Mind is at the Oxo Gallery from Sep 26 to 29 and is free details