Lancaster woman uses art to live better with schizophrenia

Ella White.
Ella White.

A Lancaster woman living with schizophrenia is fast gaining recognition as an artist.

What started as an exercise in occupational therapy has resulted in two exhibitions and the sale of three paintings for Ella White.

Ella, 45, uses art to help express her emotions and manage her mental health.

When her support worker Catherine Catterson, from national adult health and social care charity Making Space, spotted the paintings during a routine home visit, she encouraged Ella to submit her work to an exhibition being organised by the University of Cumbria.

As well as being displayed in the university show, some of Ella’s paintings were put up for auction to raise funds for young people with mental health issues.

Ella was so thrilled with the response to her work, she decided to approach her local café – Cornerstones on Sulyard Street – to ask if they’d consider an exhibition of her art. The café was happy to agree, and Ella currently has eight paintings on display and has made three sales.

Cath said: “The reception to the first painting Ella displayed has given her such a boost.

“She’s been so proactive about getting her work out there, and the recognition is very well deserved.”

Ella only discovered her passion for painting three years ago, when an occupational therapist suggested she use drawing as a way of managing the symptoms she experiences from psychosis and schizophrenia.

Ella said: “Until I got the idea for the exhibition it was just a personal hobby that made me feel happy. I draw or paint to express whatever I feel at the time – faces, decorative pictures, animals, architecture. To know that people are buying my work and it’s displayed on the wall in someone’s home or office is such a brilliant feeling.”