Sat 4th May - 26th May 2019

Join us to experience an art exhibition that invites you to walk with Alison Chandler through her personal journey as she creates art for the first time in her life to use a therapeutic tool to find her way through cancer and subsequently, following a full recovery, opening a new chapter for herself as an artist. A journey of hope and inspiration through life-threatening illness, developing a unique strength-evoking iconography, exploring depiction of the female body, identity and what we take on our travels inevitably or by force of will.

Extracts from her online biography:

"Alison Chandler lives in the small fishing village of Johnshaven on the NE coast of Scotland, south of Aberdeen. Her family were fundamentalist atheists and wordsmiths – writers, journalists, lecturers, historians, broadcasters surrounded by artists. She was the healthiest and happiest of her three siblings and expected to go to art college. Instead, she studied Spanish & Hispanic Studies at Edinburgh University, spending time in Catalunya and Santiago de Compostela. A few black years passed before she found her husband and vocation developing third sector organisations in London till their daughter was born. Moving back by the millennium to Scotland, she continued her career and kept on playing with half-hearted artistic ideas. Then disaster struck.

Investigations at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary discovered a burst appendix, a bowel tumour, a blood clot and diverticulitis. Emergency surgery resulted in an ileostomy. The wound became infected and had to be opened and a vacuum pump provided to go home with. A few days before Christmas cancer was confirmed to have reached Stage 4 and spread to the abdominal lining. Surgery could only be performed at Basingstoke in SE England and would not be contemplated without significant chemotherapy first. However even mild chemotherapy was too risky until the wound healed, until Alison was no longer anaemic from the blood loss and the ileostomy had settled its functioning.

Alison Chandler IMG 1966 2 opt

In January she began exploring her feelings through painting, mainly in brightly coloured inks, as she strengthened physically but grew in fear of both possible paths ahead: one of being untreatable the other of being made ill by treatment. She had no religious faith to turn to. 

Alison painted in minute detail – when she felt weak or sore she could at least make multiple dots on a page and distract her mind from looking ahead into the abyss. Over time she found herself searching for understanding of her situation and of herself. Words had long since become problematic – incomprehensible medical terms, words with huge and terrifying power, words far too weak to make others understand what she was feeling. Alison shared her pictures on social media to tell her friends her feelings. She produced a picture every 2 or 3 days during 16 fortnightly cycles of chemotherapy from February 2017, carrying on while in the Anchor Unit at ARI with a drip in her arm and 9 hours a day at home. 

In summer 2017, Alison and her family received the news that though the cancer was being reduced by treatment it would not be cured that way and that the specialists would not consider operating for a year. In this limbo their lives still moved forward. At a reunion with school friends a wealthy friend tried to buy a picture.  The clamour continued and Alison at last gave in and let the voices for what is now The Way Through Project come together. Alison’s journey through cancer goes on as she passed her 60th birthday at the end of November, she was not expected to see her 59th in November 2017."

Opening Launch  6.00pm Friday 3rd May 

Exhibition open daily 10am - 4pm 4th May - 26th May


There will be two "Meet the artist" talks and discussion sessions, free and no booking required.

Session 1 11am – 2.30pm Sat 4th May
Session 2 2pm – 4pm Sun 26th May