Schoolboy’s pictures of a life with brain injury are acclaimed

Sonia Whymark with son Ben and his painting at the Child Brain Injury Trust Celebration at the Saatchi Gallery in London

Sonia Whymark with son Ben and his painting at the Child Brain Injury Trust Celebration at the Saatchi Gallery in London

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy with brain injury has had his therapeutic artworks displayed at a major London art gallery.

Ben Whymark, from Didcot, volunteered to paint pictures for the Oxfordshire-based Child Brain Injury Trust to show what it is like to live with a brain injury.

The All Saints Primary School pupil suffered his brain injury when he was 16 months old after contracting pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

He suffered damage to his frontal lobes and at the back of his brain and had to learn how to walk and talk again.

But through his painting Ben hopes to show others just what life is like for him.

Oxford Mail:

Ben’s exploding head painting

Describing his painting on behaviour, Ben said: “When I feel angry it’s like a volcanic eruption in my head.”

In May the paintings went on show at a gallery in Bethnal Green, London, and were so well received they have now been transferred to the Education Room at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.

The exhibition highlights eight areas of difficulty that children with a brain injury can have problems with, including attention and concentration and behaviourial issues.

Ben’s mum Sonia, 34, who lives in Didcot with husband Lee, Ben and daughter Mia, three, said: “Ben was feeling angry one day and I suggested he should paint a picture to show how he felt.

“We went to the Saatchi gallery for a presentation on Thursday of last week and it was amazing to see Ben’s paintings up on display.”

Both his pictures sold for about £250 and the money will go to the Child Brain Injury Trust.

The paintings will stay on display until the end of August.

Mrs Whymark added: “Ben continues to have regular assessments from his neuro psychologist.

“He’s now a bright, intelligent boy, but still has challenges to deal with on a daily basis.

“He’s a true inspiration — he never gives up and truly enjoys life to the full.

“He chose to paint his pictures on attention and concentration, and behaviour, as these are the areas that he can have difficulties with.”

Lisa Turan, chief executive of the Child Brain Injury Trust, said: “We want this exhibition to highlight some of the difficulties children with a brain injury face. We also want to make adults think about how they react to children who may be exhibiting some of these behaviours and who, unbeknown to them, have an acquired brain injury.”

Francesca Wilson, head of education at the Saatchi Gallery, said: “These paintings are extremely moving.

“We’ve had many school groups and visitors see the paintings and comment on how powerful they are.

“The visual expressions of the challenges faced daily by the children give the artworks true originality and integrity.”

The Child Brain Injury Trust, based in Bicester, is a national charity that provides emotional and practical support to children and families affected by childhood acquired brain injury.

For further information, visit childbraininjurytrust.org.uk

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