Mel Pym working on Polymer clay while lying down in bed

Melissa Pym's story about how art motivates her to get up every day despite her many disabilities with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Lyme Disease.

I never know what parts of my body are going to work from day to day. At the moment, I am 100% bedbound and have to lay 180 degrees flat, and this can last for eight to nine months. So I have started working on polymer clay dragon eyes. And I can only work on them for five to ten minutes a day and when I create my paintings, it can take me up to two years to finish. So it takes a lot of patience and when I can’t work on things I am always, always researching things on YouTube. So painting keeps me on track and I have a sense of achievement when I finish a piece.

Polymer Clay Dragon eye pendantsDragon eye pendants can be made from a variety of everyday materials

I like the feeling of facing the unknown and moving through the process which keeps me in the present moment. As an artist, I want to create powerful symbols for people to make a deep and meaningful connection with because personally I have found these symbols to be of great comfort to me through my illness and still to this day. It is my intention that these symbols help to guide and support people through both good and bad times and that they imbue hope, peace, health, motivation, inspiration, compassion and love.

And as an artist, I really want to bestow these magical gifts that have helped me so much in the past and even though I find it extremely hard to communicate, the connection that I form through my artwork, people who support me or admire my work, friends and community, family - this is really vital to me and my painting and artwork creates a bridge to making these wonderful and valuable connections.

Painting of a pink lotus and silver dragonfly with a full moon"Pink Lotus Dragonfly" by Mel Pym

So that’s what keeps me going and I keep fighting and I keep trying to find new ways of how I can create art regardless of what my body is doing. I watched an artist who had no arms paint with his mouth, having a paintbrush in his mouth, and he used a ruler and a pencil to draw with his feet and that really, really inspired me. Also, art has taught me how to see the world through different eyes, even ordinary, everyday things like for example how the sunlight hits the chair becomes a really precious and beautiful moment. And this curiosity about my environment keeps developing more and more how I see light, shape, colour, line and movement in a whole new way. And that has really, really helped me being both housebound and bedbound.

‘When I was well … I was a professional fire performance artist, blending belly dance with fire-eating, swords, snakes, staves and chains, to name a few. Not only was it my love, it was my profession and how I made a living. Dancing was my whole life … I was living my dream career until Lyme disease struck me down.’

Woman dancing on stage with two drummers. She is wearing a bikini top and black boots with red and yellow flame detailing.Mel before she got sick

About Mel Pym

Mel has been in the spotlight for a large part of her life, but Chronic Lyme disease has made her feel practically invisible. Because she looks okay on the surface, hardly anyone understands how seriously ill she is.

‘A lot of people don’t understand that I am bedridden for 95% of the time."

I’m not supposed to get on the computer at all and it is a huge strain on Tim, my carer. Friends help me to manage the enquiries.

I prefer to have other people sell my work.

I don’t know what I would do without the support of these really amazing people. They have supported me for many years, going above and beyond for healing people from all walks of life in their communities.

Julie and Sarah’s new age gift shop and healing workshops are wheelchair accessible. Lily and Kevin run a quiet and peaceful healing centre, with an aquarium with cool dancing stick insects, and they have an accessible toilet.

They have both honestly made me feel like a part of the community and I don’t think I’d honestly even feel a part of the world if it wasn’t for them.’

Abstract artwork in white, pinks and green on a black background. palm trees, crosses and a wavy path or river."Art Therapy Left-Handed" by Mel Pym

Woman sitting on an a chair in an art studio with a paintbrush in her hand. Mel Pym, in her studio.  

‘At the moment, I am 100% bedbound and have to lay 180 degrees flat, and this can last for eight to nine months. March 2019’

I am interested in making a video series. My goal is to try different art materials – working with polymer clay, acrylic painting, and 100% non-toxic oil painting – and demonstrate how people with disabilities can benefit from particular art products. I’d love to hear from video editors and producers, to help me develop a web series – I want to bring colour and movement to my work, using visual effects, sounds, and transitions.

Woman in a wheelchair with her arm in a sling. Mel Pym in 2016. 


Follow Mel Pym

Even though I find it extremely hard to communicate, the connection that I form through my artwork, people who support me or admire my work, friends and community, family - this is really vital to me.

Facebook 

Go to TwoFeathersGallery

I do sometimes work on a commission basis. At the moment I have two shops that display my work, so people can buy my work directly from them.

Places where you can see Mel’s art and jewellery

Crystal Ocean

(fully wheelchair accessible) 

Go to www.crystalocean.com.au

Shamanic Rain Lifestyle Centre

(has an accessible toilet) 

Go to www.shamanicrain.com.au

For more information about Lyme Disease, Mel’s media stories, videos and Go Fund Me campaign for treatment, please go to www.gofundme.com/savemel