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Parkinson's no barrier for senior artist

A 75-year-old artist with Parkinson's disease hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams in his first ever exhibition.

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Victor says painting has become full-time to keep his mind and body active since battling Parkinson's.

Aseervatham Thevasagayam, also known as Victor, began creating charcoal drawings, painting, sculpting and copper-pressed art as a teenager.

“All through my life my paintings were about relaxation and happiness,” Victor says.

Following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 1991, the Hawthorn grandfather was forced to leave his job as a business owner.

“Now painting has become full-time to keep my mind and body active since battling my illness.”

Parkinson’s is a progressive, degenerative neurological condition that affects a person's control of their body movements.

For Victor, it’s reduced his ability to walk, caused his muscles to become stiff and rigid and affected his ability to shower and dress. Emotionally, Victor describes Parkinson’s as a “rollercoaster”.

“There are side effects of the many medications I am on. It can mostly cause me to become depressed and have a low mood.”

Support from not-for-profit organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH), via a home care package, has helped Victor to maintain an active lifestyle, stay positive, and continue with his beloved art.

“The support from VMCH has been immeasurable. They provide so many great services and allow me to take part in community programs and meet other people weekly. They also include my wife, who is my carer, and she finds this a great outlet and support too.”

Victor admits painting has become much harder over the years. 

“I can no longer do finer paintings/sketches, therefore have had to adapt my style into broader brush strokes. I feel sad that I can't create the pieces I was once able to; however when I am painting or working on my art I’m able to focus well, and at this stage, continue to control my movements to some extent.”

Victor hopes to inspire the general public, and other people living with Parkinson’s, through his first exhibition on Sunday, May 1 at Habitat Uniting Church in Hawthorn.

He will have close to 100 of his life’s works on display.

“I want to help people understand that we should continue to hold true to what we love and our passions no matter what, and that our illnesses shouldn't limit who we are and what we enjoy in life.”

The exhibition will be held from 3.30-7.30pm on Sunday, May 1 at Augustine Hall, Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona St, Hawthorn.

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