[Updated] Hamilton woman paints for therapy, her art ends up in The Louvre

Louvre at first sight. A Hamilton psychiatrist takes up oil painting as part of her post car-accident therapy and ends up having her first piece displayed at The Louvre in Paris.
Hamilton neuropsychiatrist Sarah Garside with her painting, "Orchidesque," which was on display at The Louvre in Paris in Dec. 2015. (Sarah Garside)

Originally published: January 7th, 2016

Audio updated: January 19th, 2016

Having her work on exhibit at The Louvre in Paris was a "dream come true" for Hamilton psychiatrist Sarah Garside. It's also something she never thought she'd be capable of achieving.

Her painting in The Louvre, entitled "Orchidesque," was her first-ever oil painting. Garside says she painted an orchid because she was given orchids while recovering from a serious car accident in hospital.

"To me it represents change, recovery, regrowth," says Garside.

In 2011, Garside suffered a catastrophic brain injury, after her accident. She wasn't expected to live.

Eventually, after several months of therapy, Garside was able to move home. In the meantime, her licence to practice psychiatry was suspended and her marriage fell apart. To help her cope, and heal, it was suggested she meet with a local artist for therapy.

"I was completely blown apart and kind of destroyed, and as part of my recovery the head injury team that was helping to look after me through all of my recovery said 'Sarah, you need to find a new avenue to express yourself. So why don't you meet with our [recreational] therapist and let's see where that goes,'" explains Garside.

Through that therapist, Garside was introduced to Hamilton painter Audrey Traini, who taught Garside how to paint with oils.

Early in 2015, Traini had asked Garside to stay for tea after one of her lessons.

"I was actually fully expecting her to say 'Sarah you have no talent, I don't want to work with you anymore,' and out of her mouth comes this other line."

Traini had asked Garside if she'd consider submitting her work to be juried for exhibition at The Louvre.

"I had never in my wildest dreams, first of all thought I had enough talent to ever be able to create a piece that would be considered to hang in The Louvre.  And I was thinking at least this is a positive step."

Garside's painting was one of ten pieces by Canadian artists to be shown at The Louvre in December. She says she'll try to make it back into The Louvre for the same show in December 2016.


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