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Recovery journey inspires art series

Tuesday, 05 December 2023

Newtown artist Murray Chenery is painting a series of works to convey the vivid emotional side of his healthcare journey following heart surgery this year.
The highs and lows of his experience are being turned into 22 explorative paintings, aiming to inform and educate people about the emotional toll that comes with recovering from major surgery, while showing gratitude to the staff who cared for him.
After a double-bypass surgery, a blood clot during Murray's recovery required eight weeks of rehabilitation at Barwon Health’s Sunrise Centre. The former brand and marketing manager said he felt well-prepared for the physical side of his operation and recovery, but was unaware of the mental health impacts he would face.
"It's a natural part of the process to go into some quite dark and interesting places that you have to pull yourself out of,” he said.
“There's a lot of information about your operation and the heart, but people don't talk as much about the emotional side of the experience, including anxiety.
“The Sunrise Centre was fantastic with a combination of exercise and information, focused on the individual's needs and committed to getting the best result for the patient.
“My artworks are a way to capture my thoughts and feelings through that experience, including my diagnosis, surgery, recovery and rehabilitation. I hope these works will convey that the mental and emotional side of the process is as important as the physical side of it. If it helps one person, it was worthwhile.”
Murray’s passion for sharing his experience to help others has also led to an appointment as a peer support leader for Geelong for Heart Support Australia.
“This group meets to help each other avoid returning to hospital with further heart issues,” he said.
"I'm at a time in my life when I can give back to the community, I have the energy and the passion, and this is one of the ways I can make a difference."
Murray aims to complete all 22 works by Christmas, with hopes to display them at Boom Gallery in Newtown and Hoop Gallery in Torquay, as well as University Hospital Geelong.