Gleamed: Adding The Sparkle To Illustration.

Next Steps
Reading about the work Kimberley does and continues to do, as a columnist, blogger, illustrator and campaigner, you would have no idea she went through a very difficult time in her early years. Kimberley was born premature in Hope Hospital, Greater Manchester and had to be kept in an incubator for some time. At the time, and surprisingly so, no tests were done to test her sight and hearing but her mum knew something was not quite right.
By the time the local hospital responded to her mum’s persistent concerns, she was already 4 years old and found to have sight and hearing loss. Eventually, she was referred to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital by a specialist, where she underwent several operations over the next few years to help resolve the congenital cataracts in both her eyes. She also had myringoplasty performed on both ears to close the perforations in her ear drums.
Now 26, Kimberley is registered blind (totally blind in one eye, is partially sighted in the other) and uses a hearing aid. She continues to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, where she had spent most of her childhood and she feels she is now finally starting to live her life with her visual impairment.
Kimberley is a self-taught illustrator and has aspirations to study fine art at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. She was recently named “Young Illustrator of the Year” for 2014 by RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), creating 6 illustrations that were published in RNIB’s Insight magazine, using themes from “Next Steps” to “Support at the time of Sight loss”. These themes were selected by Insight Magazine’s Editor and Kimberley was then able to create her illustrations around those ideas. The illustrations were created and published between December 2013 and September 2014, and you can see them listed below.    
Next Steps
Theme: “Next Steps
In this illustration, Kimberley shows her next steps for the future; from completing her braille course, training for a guide dog, continuing her campaign work, to mobility training with her long cane.
Favourite Apps and Features
Theme: “Favourite Apps and Features
Here, she depicts her iPad and her favourite apps and features, including accessibility functions like zoom, voiceover and iBooks.
MaMoMi initiative: How did you keep inspired through your early challenges with sight loss?
Kimberley Burrows: The support of my Mum and my family kept me motivated through the early challenges. I was never treated any differently from my brother or the other children in the house but i really felt i was treated with more compassion and respect because of everything i was going through. I was never pitied because of all the operations i had to go through in my childhood. I was praised for being so strong and brave but never had any special treatment so that really helped me adjust and feel like the other children.
Preparing for Adult Life
Theme: “Preparing for Adult life
This illustration was created using coloured pencils and a fine liner, portraying her as a teenager in her high school uniform, looking towards a future in adult life. 
MI: Was there any point where you felt you will not be able to pursue any career?
KB: Towards the end of high school, i developed a severe depression and anxiety because of the realisation that i was spending so much of my time in hospital, and it felt lie i was been robbed of the enjoyment of being a child. I found it hard to be sociable because of my visual impairment, especially when my vision began to diminish even more. After l left college, i certainly felt i would not be able to pursue a career, more because of my own insecurities than my vision impairment itself. I didn’t feel comfortable about who i was and needed time to accept myself and my disability before others could do the same.
Find the ability in your disability to follow your dreams” – Kimberley Burrows
Outdoor sports and activities
Theme: “Outdoor sports and activities
Here, she depicts her character riding a bike surrounded by an archery board, football and net, cricket bat with ball and wicket, and a racket with a tennis ball and shuttlecock.
MI: How did you get involved in art and what would you like to share with the world that can inspire another person with a disability?
KB: I have loved art all of my life. I remember the first thing i did when entering the first year of primary school was going straight to the easel and painting a vase of flowers! That was one of my earliest memories. Since then, it has always been a creative outlet for me to draw my emotions and my experiences, and then translate that into colourful imagery. When i had my operations at Great Ormond street Children’s hospital in London, a city far away from home, the only thing that would stop me from feeling home sick was when i would draw.
I want to inspire and encourage anyone with a disability to “find the ability in your disability to follow your dreams!” Get the inspiration to keep doing what you love to do, even when you are experiencing difficulty at the time! That is how your dreams will come to reality.
Support at the time of sight loss
Theme: “Support at the time of sight loss
This illustration was a reference to the support she received from friends and family, her doctors and other medical officers and information she received online and via the internet. This was done using black fineliner and colouring pencils.
MI: What are your favourite pieces?
KB: My favourite paintings and illustrations are my Carousel GCSE piece, the Christmas card for Henshaws, the illustrated Guide Dog for the Get Active! supplement in conjunction with the Scouts magazine, the Paddington Bear illustration, and the John Lewis birthday composition.
My achievements in the past year
Theme: “My achievements in the past year
This includes Kimberley’s interview with Grenada Reports, her interview with Manchester Evening News, her artwork for John Lewis, and her planned visit to the European Parliament in November.
In addition to her achievements in the past year, Kimberley has recently been matched to her Guide dog, Tami, which will give her a greater sense of independence. Once her training with the Guide dog is completed, she plans to further her education and achieve more qualifications.
 Get the inspiration to keep doing what you love to do.” – Kimberley Burrows
What we find really remarkable about Kimberley’s illustrations is the tenacity she has to get through the artworks; due to the strain the drawings place on her seeing eye (she is completely blind in one eye and can only focus for a few minutes at a time with the other), she can only work on the her pieces for around 20 minutes at a time. This means some of her illustrations can take up to one month to finish!
Kimberley’s dreams of turning her creative passion into a career may well be realized very soon as she has been commissioned to create a special drawing of Paddington bear for the creator, Michael Bond.
Well done Kimberley, continue to add the sparkle to illustration!
Special appreciation: We want to take this opportunity to thank Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, Hope Hospital, RNIB, Insight Magazine, and Henshaws.
To contact Kimberley, email her at You can also visit her blog page at Gleamed ✿ Kimberley’s Blog
GLEAMED: Kimberley’s blog

LLOYD: Colour THROUGH the Darkness!

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Beautiful Calm
I met Lloyd McCullough in October 2013 at the Feel the Force event in Peterborough, an event organised by my friend and associate, JJ Lucia-Wright. JJ and his team do an excellent job of enabling access to the world of entertainment and popular culture for the visually impaired and disabled. Among the many things that stands out with Lloyd is his relaxed demeanor and his colorful paintings. A lot of his paintings are influenced by comic and action film characters, and his artwork shows a real appreciation of strength and muscular tones. There is a maturity about Lloyd’s depictions that are really captivating.
Lloyd was born deaf with Users syndrome, a condition that causes his sight to deteriorate over time. But in-spite of this immense challenge, Lloyd continued to show and develop an interest in drawing at an early age. His story is inspiring.
MaMoMi Initiative:  What are your Inspirations?
Lloyd McCullough: Having been born deaf and losing my sight gradually over the years, I have a very different experience and perspective on life than what other people usually have.  As a child growing up I had a fascination with comic books and comic character heroes. I particularly loved Spider-Man, Conan the Barbarian and the Incredible Hulk!  I loved experimenting with drawings and did used a lot of my own heroes, God-like characters. DarkGuard was a favorite comic collection of mine.  I also loved Japanese Art and Yoji Shinkawa is an absolute favorite of mine. His work is a real inspiration and I love his depictions of strong characters. I also love the work of American fantasy and science fiction artist Frank Frazetta.
I grew up loving a lot of the dark lord fantasy fiction kind of art and when i was young many of my paintings were dark and scary. Now as I’ve grown and matured and my my outlook on life has changed somewhat. Previously, I was perhaps shut off from society as the impact of losing my sight gradually began to erode my confidence. This was a particular dark time in my life and I concentrated on many dark characters. But now i have strength of character and a more positive outlook on life, both of this largely because I have developed a strong faith. Now my art is peaceful, serene and embraces a feeling of hope and salvation; a paradise future in and with a beautiful Garden. The thought of beautiful trees, a beautiful earth and happy people. That is my future and this is what now inspires my paintings. I am concentrating at the moment on a collection of Fantasy Angels and paradise-like gardens, and also some bible characters.
We can do anything we dream of.” – Lloyd McCullough
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The Forest Keeper


MI: What drives your determination to help and support others?

LM: I have been through a lot in my life because of my deafness and blindness. I have learnt to cope with my feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and fear. In the past, i felt let down by Doctors and health professionals and this left me feeling very disappointed and alone. I have learned to change this into a positive influence in my life. I am no longer scared or frightened of my future and want to use my experience to inspire others to change their outlook on life. We can do anything we dream of. I have so many dreams and fantasy stores in my mind that I want to put down on paper and share with others to make them happy. I want to be able to show people that thinking positively can have a positive influence in your life. This drives me as I know many people suffer every day and I want to be able to show and help them be positive.

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Little Garden


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Pirate Lord
MI: What do you hope to achieve with your art career?
LM: My hopes for the future is to produce my own collection of story books for children. I have written one story book already and currently working three others. I would love to be able to visit the work place and schools to give inspirational talks about my life. I have currently visited two schools, one in Norwich and one in Peterborough. These have both been an amazing experience as both Schools had hearing, deaf and deaf blind pupils. I have met some wonderful children and they have been so happy to meet me. They have been confident to use haptic sign language and have therefore no social barriers. Deaf adults are sometimes embarrassed or nervous to talk to me but these deaf children were so confident and it was like we were all the same. It was a truly wonderful experience. Also the hearing children and school teachers were amazed and inspired.  This made me really happy too.
I would love to encourage people to be unafraid of their disabilities.” – Lloyd McCullough
Lloyd meeting Jay at a school in Norwich
Lloyd met Jay at his school in Norwich. Jay contracted Meningitis that left him both deaf and blind.
Lloyd’s earlier paintings were done using Oils and water colour but has found the computer age very kind to his practice. He now uses Corel painter programme, where he uses customizable brushes and pen to draw freehand on the screen to produce the paintings he wants, getting more or less any effect he wants to produce.
He  would like to sell more paintings but making money has never been his goal or ambition. Attaining immense wealth and fame is not one of Lloyd’s driving force as he prefers to remain grounded and down-to-earth. He admits It would be nice to make enough money to be able to design and build his own house one day; a dream i personally believe he deserves to aspire to. His more immediate concern is to raise money to support children’s charities, something he continues to pursue.
MI: Your hope is to Inspire and reach people regardless of disabilities, social backgrounds or impairments.  What else Inspires you?

LM: So as I have said I would love to have a collection of story books for children. I want to promote my artwork and maybe have my artworks shown at different venues, at art shows, galleries or Museums, or even a market stall in a different place every week. I would like to work in making and producing films, something I currently enjoy as  a hobby. I would love to encourage people to be unafraid of their disabilities; to not be afraid to use hands-on sign language. Our community needs to treat everyone as equal. I am concentrating on living life to the full and make things happen for me. I want to inspire people to do the same.
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Lloyd McCullough
Contact Lloyd via the links below.
Website: THOGUS ART 
Facebook: Thogus Art

We also want to acknowledge the support of Emma Jayne Burrows, DeafBlind BSL Communicator Guide, for transcribing this interview with Lloyd.

For details of the Feel the Force Day 2014 on the 18th of October in Peterborough, please click on this link FEEL THE FORCE DAY 2014

Article written by Andrew Mashigo, for MaMoMi Initiative.


Embracing a New life through Dance.

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The Mind controls the Body

Meeting Zazel, an actress, model and dancer, it is not immediately obvious that she has a physical disability. Her exuberance and colourful taste in fashion makes her light up any room; a witty character full of life and charm, she has a dazzle to her smile that further compliments her persona.

This New Yorker, originally from Montserrat, a small Caribbean Island also popularly known as Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, was diagnosed with a benign meningioma, a brain tumour, 12 years ago. This diagnosis, following a previous health concern, was threatening to unravel Zazel’s career but she had other plans!

Embracing a New Life.

Throughout the early ordeal with her illness, the doctors diagnosis was pretty grim, to say the least. She was told the tumour was big, approximately 4.5 inches long, and that it sat precariously behind her ear lobe. She was told her best option was radiation therapy because the tumour was too large to take out. Another physician she consulted agreed the tumour was large, but that surgery would be possible, but difficult. She was also warned the surgery may result in her paralysis.

Though the prognosis was gloomy, Zazel never feared she would never be able to dance again. All she wanted to do was get better! With the immense support of her friends and family, and the acknowledgement that God is good, she made it through. After a series of occupational, speech and physical therapy, Zazel begin to pick up her life again.

She asked her friends to “Stretch me, stretch me!”, and within days of her surgery, she got movement back in her limbs. Within weeks, she was fit enough to take a trip to the Caribbean Island to recuperate, a time she felt was crucial in her long road to recovery. Time that eventually helped her find a path back to life, a new life embracing Dance.

One poignant incident Zazel remembers was when a friend told her she needed a jazz dance teacher, and though she had only just recovered from the surgery, was encouraged to take on this new challenge. This turned out to be an amazing opportunity. Her dance sessions were a great success and only after so many sessions did someone ask why she walked with a limp. Incredibly, all this time no one recognised she was partially paralysed!

The Inspiration:

Question: What has been your single greatest inspiration for your form of performance art?

“African Culture and the African dance  experience has been my biggest Inspiration. I studied dance throughout my life, both in the US and in Europe, and being true to my art form continually inspires me to explore this dance form even further.”

The renowned African-American choreographer and dancer, Alvin Ailey (1931 – 1989) influenced Zazel’s early interest in Dance. His dynamic, vibrant blend of ballet, modern jazz and African dance was a huge inspiration and she continues to follow this legacy. Still slightly paralysed on one side, Zazel demonstrates and performs movements using the art forms from a chair with the same style and authenticity.

Her favourite dance routine is Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations”, his most popular and critically acclaimed work from 1960. Ailey drew upon influence from African-American spirituality, the blues, and gospel songs, and also his blood memories of Texas, exploring places of deepest grief. He said one of America’s richest treasures was the African-American cultural heritage – “sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” This sounds to me very much the same spirit Zazel operates in, experiencing triumph where trials previously prevailed.

Question: Do you feel well-received by the dance community in-spite of your physical challenge?

“The dance community continues to embrace me because I offer challenging, inspiring classes and performances, demonstrating directly that physical challenges need not limit anyone’s passion for living. I convey an upbeat energy and provide individuals with moments of pure joy. I feel it is important that the audience is able to respond to the performance, and that’s where the energy I get back becomes a reflection of the love I respond to.”

The “work-in-progress’ dance presentation which Zazel held in November 2013 went extremely well. See an example of her work in the video below.

dance frees her, helping her express beauty and gratitude through the performance.”

I find this dance routine and performance truly catching! Watching this, one can feel her sense of freedom, especially from any physical disability. The energy, exuberance and physicality she displays captivates and almost mesmerises her audience. It is my assertion that her dance frees her, helping her express beauty and gratitude through the performance. I think, that in itself, is a powerful message!

Question: What part has faith played in your capacity to use your “alternate ability”? (I use the term “alternate” to represent the great abilities people with physical disabilities have, use and manifest).

“I always tell myself that “The Mind Controls the Body”. And as my journey continues, I embrace an inner peace. My life reflects God’s peace within. My Faith means I believe, and my conviction is for a new and better life ahead.”

A poem Zazel wrote embodies her response to her physical challenge, and this renewed approach to life.

I have made a new life through dance,

I have risen above my body’s deficits,

And have embraced a new beautiful body and the illumination of a life force!

I have recreated myself through dance,

Movements entice me and excite my soul, triggering passion,

Love, fulfilment and Joy.” – Zazel-Chavah O’Garra

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Zazel-Chavah O’Garra, MSW

Performer, Motivational Speaker.

John F. Kennedy Center National Teaching Artist Fellow

Article written by Andrew Mashigo, Project Director, MaMoMi Initiative.