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Former Olympian turns to art to come to terms with father’s dementia

Neil Eckersley standing outside a shop displaying his art

An artist coming to terms with his father’s dementia has said concentrating on work has been “therapeutic”.

It’s not the first time Neil Eckersley has turned to painting in order to overcome trauma, his artistic talents came to the fore following the death of his brother.

The former Olympian’s masterpieces have recently been on show I Know You’re In There, his recent exhibition which closed yesterday, 28th October, on display at a Lancaster charity shop.

Eckersley, 59, started work on the project before he lost his dad James at the age of 85 a few weeks ago hoping it would "spark a conversation about dementia".

The exhibition featured It’s Not A Laughing Matter, a carving representing his father’s “infectious laugh”, Three Faces of Dementia, a caricature highlighting how his dad’s emotions can change in an instant and Memories Are Golden [pictured below] , a skull sculpture replicating  "how important it is to protect our memories".

A skull on top of pieces of paper with written memories

Eckersley said his art helped him come to terms “with my dad's dementia", adding: "It is a dark subject, but it's powerful.

"It was therapeutic and a good way to get my feelings out.

"I'm very proud of it and feel closure now it is out there."

His father managed to see the art and “welled up with pride” just before he passed away.

The exhibition was staged at the Defying Dementia Charity Shop, chosen by Eckersley after he paid a visit on a “bad day”.

Putting the work on show was not in tribute to his father, the motive was to start "a conversation about dementia and its effects on not only those who suffer, but also the wider community".

Eckersley added "Early diagnosis is so important as there is so much support out there.”

[ Neil Eckersley art is not for sale as it is “too important” to him, but would like a dementia charity to benefit from it. ]

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