The National Brain Appeal is the charity dedicated to improving the outcome and quality of life for the one in six people affected by a neurological condition. We are thrilled to have them on board with us for The Big Draw Festival for the second year in a row! Alongside funding pioneering research and providing access to the best technology for expert diagnosis and treatment, the charity also runs an annual art fundraising campaign, A Letter in Mind. Every year, members of the public from a range of disciplines are invited to create an artwork on an envelope; all of these artworks are then priced identically at £85 and sold anonymously in an exhibition at the Oxo Tower, London.
In this article, Marie Mangan, PR Manager at The National Brain Appeal, tells us about Mark Entwisle and why he supports The National Brain Appeal's A Letter in Mind exhibition.
Mark will be running a watercolour workshop to help raise money for charity on January 27th 2022. Come join him for a two hour watercolour session for only £15.00, raise cash for charity and learn some new creative skills. To sign up click here!
Artist and portrait painter, Mark Entwisle, has very personal reasons for supporting The National Brain Appeal’s A Letter in Mind exhibition of art on envelopes. He first took part in 2019, just months after having treatment for a brain tumour at the hospital the charity fundraises for, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London’s Queen Square.
One of Mark’s beautiful paintings will be available to buy for £85 when A Letter in Mind opens on Thursday 4 November at 11am. His will be among the 542 artworks submitted to the 2021 exhibition, responding to the theme ‘Making Your Mark’. All will be displayed anonymously in the online gallery aletterinmind.org, previewing from 2 November.
“I am always delighted to take part. I have direct experience of what The National Hospital can do for patients. I feel so grateful for how they helped me and also for everything they, and all NHS staff, have been doing to help patients during the Covid pandemic. Taking part in A Letter in Mind was such a perfect way for me to show my gratitude.”
Mark, who was The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2020 winner, will also be giving a two-hour workshop on behalf of the charity to help raise additional funds. He will be guiding participants to create a figurative watercolour painting, advising on colour mixing and tonal values, as well as other tips and techniques.
In 2014, the Crouch End based artist, now 59, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, a vestibular schwannoma, also known as acoustic neuroma, a tumour that grows on the nerve used for hearing and balance. He was referred to The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where initially they monitored Mark with annual MRI scans. After five years, they decided that it was time to do something about it. Mark’s options were to have surgery to remove it, which carried risks of losing his hearing in his right ear or to have Gamma Knife Radiosurgery which would be less invasive.
Mark (second from left) with fellow artists taking part in A Letter in Mind
Mark opted to have the Gamma Knife treatment which took place at the end of March 2019. The treatment took place over the course of a morning and was quite intense. However, he was home by the afternoon, took pain killers for the next couple days and within a month or two he felt back to normal.
Mark worked as an illustrator for 15 years, mostly designing covers for Penguin Books, including authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aldous Huxley and PG Wodehouse, as well as theatre posters for the National Theatre and record covers.
However, during this time he also painted and eventually decided that he wanted to be a painter rather than an illustrator. In 1999 he had his first portrait accepted into the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery. This led to his first portrait commission and Mark has been working as a portrait painter ever since.
Mark went through school with undiagnosed dyslexia. He said:
“I always had this sense that I was behind at school. Reading and spelling were so difficult for me compared to others and I felt stupid.”
A significant moment for Mark at school was when his headmaster walked into a room full of pupils and held up a drawing asking whose it was.
“He was looking over at the older boys and was surprised when I put my hand up. I was only seven at the time. He said it was an excellent drawing! From that point on I identified myself as an artist. Where others read, I will draw. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
To find out more about the National Brain Appeal, head to their website here. To find out more about A Letter in Mind, click here.
A Letter in Mind - Making Your Mark previews from 2 November with sales opening at 11am on 4 November at aletterinmind.org
Registrations are open for The Big Draw Festival 2021: Make the Change! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.