A grandmother who rediscovered the joy of art 50 years after being wrongly told her drawings were no good is looking forward to her first ever exhibition.
Talented Gaynor Jones, 57, from Gwespyr, in Flintshire, picked up her pencils again while attending art classes at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham where she receives respite care three days a month.
Artist in residence Sarah Edwards was astounded by the quality of her intricate and lifelike wildlife sketches.
So much so, that she is putting on a display of Gaynor’s work in the foyer of the Pendine’s Penybryn centre which specialises in providing care for people with brain injuries and other neurological problems.
Gaynor, who uses a wheelchair and is unable to stand, says the confidence she has gained since going to Penybryn has been a life-changing experience for her.
She said: “I suffered depression. I never went out of the house, I simply couldn’t face it. I wouldn’t talk to anyone other than my partner and family. I’d stay in bed for weeks at a time and my weight ballooned to over 28 stone.
“I now have to use a wheelchair and I have a social worker and carers who come four times a day. I do manage, with help, to go swimming once a week which I found exhausting but I’m now down to 21 stone and still losing weight. Hopefully I’ll be able to stand again in the future.
“I started to come to Pendine Park on respite due to my mobility and depression and was encouraged to go to the art classes they have in Penybryn. I just picked up a pencil and began sketching.
“I used to draw a lot as a child. I’d do stuff from cartoons, like Mickey Mouse that sort of thing. But I was told my drawings were rubbish and I shouldn’t bother wasting my time. I lost all confidence and never really drew anything again until I started coming to Penybryn.
“I like to draw animals and wildlife. My son, Dafydd, is an animal rights activist and a vegan and I’m vegetarian too. I just love animals and cartoon animals as well.
According to Gaynor who has been with her partner Larry McMaster, for 34 years, the first drawing she did at the art class at Pendine Park was of a pair of seagulls.
She said: “There are two seagulls that live by me at Gwespyr. I see them all the time and I call them George and Mildred. I drew them on my first try in the art group at Penybryn and Nicky Clarke, the enrichment activities co-ordinator, told me my drawing was brilliant.
“That gave me confidence. Now I can’t wait to get to Pendine Park for my respite visits so I can draw and enjoy what I do. I really get on with the residents and love the fact no one judges you, people tell me they like my work and that has encouraged me.
“I got my partner, Larry, to go to the beach and get me some big pebbles. I emulsion them and then put transfers on them and then use yacht varnish to seal the pebbles. They make great ornaments for the garden.
“I also like crochet work and have made clothes and dressed a doll that Nicky is going to raffle at Penybryn. I just like art and craft work, particularly drawing and wish I’d drawn all my life instead of believing I couldn’t do it and that I was rubbish.
Gaynor, who has three children and three grandchildren, Luke, 13, Kadymae, nine, and Jack, three, says her family are proud of her art work.
She said: “I wish I’d been drawing for years and maybe gone to an art college and made something of myself. I just love coming on respite to Pen y Bryn, the staff are fantastic and the residents are like my extended family, no one judges me. I’m not so depressed now.
“It really is down to Nicky and the Pendine Park staff that I have gained so much confidence. It’s amazing they want to put on an exhibition of my drawings at Pen y Bryn. That really is something special and I’m so proud.”
Penybryn enrichment and activities co-ordinator Nicky Clarke said: “Gaynor just needed a boost and when we saw how well she could draw I think everyone was shocked. Her drawings are unbelievably good and really professional.
“She’s fitted in so well and clearly enjoys coming here for her respite sessions. We have noticed a big difference and I’m sure her family have too. She’s now happier and has so much more confidence.”
Artist in residence Sarah Edwards was taken aback by Gaynor’s wonderful natural talent.
She said: “I love the wildlife drawings Gaynor takes such pride in. She is a truly gifted artist and it’s a shame that for so long she didn’t draw or practice any art.
”She is certainly making up for lost time and I look forward to seeing the exhibition of her work going on display.
“We believe here at Pendine Park that the arts have a big role to play in how we enrich the lives of our residents and encourage them to make the most of their talents.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Penybryn manager Tracey Cuthill who said: “The golden thread running through everything we do is our award-winning enrichment programme which put the arts right at the centre of how we improve the quality of life for our residents and also the staff looking after them.”