Mum of five, Sharon Douglas who suffers from the debilitating illness fibromyalgia, is painting a fresh chapter in her life as she showcases her artwork at Royal Quays Outlet Centre.
45-year-old Sharon, from North Shields – whose work will be on display during a week-long residency at the centre – is an inspiration to her family and friends having been told by doctors at a very young age that she would be wheelchair bound by the age of 30.
Being diagnosed with a lifelong illness did not hamper Sharon’s creative spirit as she positively turned her attention to painting, unearthing a real natural talent.
From May 15 for a full week, courtesy of the centre, Sharon and Jean Coldwell, along with friends of The Beamish Art Club will display their paintings in unit 48, including a range of iconic North East landmarks, such as The Tyne Bridge, North Shields Fish Quay as well as eye-catching still life images.
Sharon said: “Painting is my source of pleasure. It gives me the creative freedom that my body is no longer able to provide. I defied doctors who, when I was 12, said I would be in a wheelchair at 30. My stubborn streak held out until I was 39 I also had five daughters which, given my condition, my doctors told me it would not be possible.
“Since childhood I have suffered with chronic back problems and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a rheumatic condition characterised by muscular or musculoskeletal pain with stiffness and localised tenderness at specific points on the body.
“I also had cancer which I think brought on a further condition causing my senses to get confused. For example, when it is warm outside I am often freezing cold. I was then diagnosed with diabetes so painting really is my therapy.
“It is hard when you feel your body is not able but your mind remains active, as I now find it very difficult to get out and about.
“Recently, I have turned my attention to pastel colours and when I do I, enjoy painting animal portraits and I am looking forward to doing more landscape images.
“Through joining a painting group at the YMCA in North Shields, I have formed a close group of friends, some of whom will also be exhibiting their work with me at the centre.
“I try to paint most days even if it is just for five minutes, some days the brush can feel very heavy but it helps to give me a real focus.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Royal Quays for allowing me to show my work.”
Centre manager, Judith Ramshaw, said: “Sharon is a true inspiration and it is a privilege to offer her space at the centre, we wish her the best of luck as she continues to build her reputation through her stunning work.”