UPDATE! UPDATE! I am now fully booked for commissioned drawings, but you can still donate and get yourself a signed, limited-edition print. Please contact me via email for details!

Just over six months ago my Grandmother, Christine Brock, a.k.a. ‘Granny Town’ (indeed we were fortunate grandchildren to have had a ‘Granny Seaside’ too), passed away.

Her death was also her release from Alzheimer’s, which had frustrated her last years, and haunted our family as we watched an energetic, cheerful and loving individual slip away from us and recess into a shell of a woman.

As is often the case, after her death I found out more about her, and wished I’d been able to ask her more questions about her life, her experiences, her enthusiasms. I’d known that she’d trained at the Regent Street Polytechnic before becoming a seamstress near Regent Street, for her nimble fingers kept my sister and I in hand-made dresses as children. I hadn’t known that (after having children) she had re-trained as social worker for the blind, and would take long buses up from south London to Mile End and Stepney to work with the visually-impaired. I often think of her work as I wander around my own necks of the East End. She often sketched, used watercolours, embroidered and knitted in her spare time and I now long to ask her about how precious her talents were to her after the experience of helping people with limited or no visibility.

Before she became ill, she was always asking to see my sketchbook. I’m only sorry that by the time I had the courage to commit to art and produce drawings on a regular basis she was already bed-bound in a home and unable to recognise her family, let alone give me a critique which, with her creative eyes, would have been so rewarding. On a good day when the ‘fog’ wasn’t so heavy, a frail and contorted figure in a bed was still just able to turn the pages of my sketchbook, and point and gesture at my drawings. Her words were incomprehensible, but she appeared to recognise the pictures for what they were, and as her skinny fingers traced my lines her murmurs would dip and rise in tone, her eyes would scan the paper, and for a tantalising moment, I would recognise my grandmother.

So many people have carefully and more eloquently written about this degenerative disease that I don’t feel I can add more. I can only say that from my own perspective that Alzheimer’s seems to be one of the cruellest diseases for both the sufferer and, as it irreversibly develops, the loved ones who find themselves with a living ghost.

On March 28th  (when Christine would have turned 85) I will be staging a  Drawathon, or Drawing Marathon, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. The Society gave my family invaluable support during such a difficult time, and as well as caring for families and sufferers of the disease they are the leading researchers into dementia. Drawing is what I do and the skill I can offer, so it seems more appropriate than climbing a mountain or cycling a bike through Europe. It also feels right given the pleasure Granny Town took in drawing, and that the act of drawing is a mentally stimulating activity, the kind of exercise for the brain advocated by scientists to stave of the disease.

A drawing by Granny of her cat


Studies of Grandad doing the crossword, as drawn by Granny


Grandad doing the crossword, as drawn by me, October 2011

I will set out early, with sketchbook, stool and thermos, and draw all over the City, fending off tourists, gangs of schoolchildren and people stumbling out of the pubs in the evening. Allowing for breaks (and a decent night’s sleep in-between!), I will complete 24 hours of intense drawing over the course of two long days. I would be grateful for every pound that I can raise, and I’d like to give something back. Sponsors who pledge £10 and over will receive a small limited-edition reproduction print of the best drawing of the day. I’m also seeking generous souls to recommended a site within or close to the City of London, and stump up £50. In return, they will receive the original drawing/painting done on the location of their choice*. All the money raised will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society. How do I sponsor this great artistic endeavour by getting an original artwork at a bargain price whilst also playing a small part in the fight against dementia, I hear you ask? It’s simple…

1) Visit my page at Just Giving and donate: http://www.justgiving.com/Joanna-Moore-draws

2) If you fancy a commissioned drawing, recommend a location with your message: a building, view, scene, theme, idea, even a person!

*The small print: 1. In order for me to meet my target of drawing as much as I can I need to spend minimal time travelling, and preferably dash between locations on foot. I will try and plan a route from one end of the city to another, so help me by commissioning central locations within a three mile radius of St Paul’s Cathedral 2. Drawings will be done from public places where I feel safe: so please don’t ask for dark alleys or awkward positions. 3. Drawing will be around a5-a4 in size and vary in medium/style. I can’t predict how my eyes, head and hands will be functioning after hours, so you’ll have to trust me to follow my instincts and do the very best I can! 4. I retain copyright of drawings.

I would love to raise over £1000 for the Alzheimer’s Society. Please get involved by sponsoring me or commissioning a picture for yourself or a friend, or forward this on to anyone who may be interested.

Thank you everyone who has already donated almost £500 in the first two days already, especially people I have never met but knows my work and out their faith in this crazy idea, fingers crossed we can beat that by the end of March!

UPDATE! UPDATE! I am now fully booked for commissioned drawings, but you can still donate and get yourself a signed, limited-edition print. Please contact me via email for details!