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Donegal based artist Rachael depicts her life with epilepsy

Artist Rachael Bradley with mentor Peadar McDaid, Create-A-Link. Photo: Donna McBride

Artist Rachael Bradley with mentor Peadar McDaid, Create-A-Link. Photo: Donna McBride

BY SEÁN P. FEENY
TWO paintings by a Donegal-based artist reflecting her life living with epilepsy have been chosen for an international exhibition opening in the USA this October.
Rachael Brady (44) responded to a call for artists living with epilepsy in the Epilepsy Ireland Newsletter to submit pieces for ‘The Mind Unravelled’ art competition.

Over 100 artists from all over the world submitted pieces and Rachael had not just one, but two of her pieces chosen for inclusion in the Hidden Truths exhibition in Newport Beach, California. The first piece selected is entitled Chin Up and reflects Rachael’s feeling of having to put on a brave face, even though you are afraid of what is going to happen.

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The second, It Just Happened, is a self-portrait depicting Rachael on one half in her career and everything going well, on the other half she is having a seizure.
Rachael was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 35 forcing her to put a hold on her career in accounting and finance. She is one of over 37,000 people over the age of five living with epilepsy in Ireland today.

Two years ago the Dundalk native started an art class Create-a-Link Art Centre in Letterkenny. She was taught by Peadar McDaid who also has epilepsy.
“I was living in Ramelton at the time, but have since moved to Moville. I had done art in school and college and clicked right back into it when I started with Peadar.
“Peadar was fantastic and a great encouragement, showing me that you can work in full-time jobs with the condition and it gave me a lot of confidence,” she said.

Rachael said people still fear epilepsy and are commonly mislead about the condition, thinking that you can’t continue your work. “Over the last two years I have built up a lot of confidence and I am ready to get back to working again,” Rachael said.

After seven years of trial and error, Rachael has now had her seizures under control for the past two years. “You have to find the right medication and some can make it worse, but thankfully I am now going into my third year seizure free.”

Although she can’t work in her old profession anymore, as she has photosensitive epilepsy which prevents her from working on computers, Rachael has gone for various job interviews and is hopeful that she can soon get back into employment.

“I think it has opened new avenues for me, I could possibly work in an art gallery, for example, and I am definitely continuing with my art,” she said.
The mission of the Hidden Truth Exhibition is to utilise art as a tool to improve societal awareness about epilepsy in an effort to abolish barriers and stigmas, and to educate society on the truths of this still very mysterious condition.

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