An artist who broke her spine and both her arms and legs in a car accident in Northampton has exhibited paintings inspired by her near-death experience.
Mareika Gillett, now aged 23. suffered a shattered pelvis, fractured spine, broken bones in every limb and shattered facial bones after a car drove through a red light and hit her as she crossed a road, just five weeks into her fine art course at the University of Northampton.
Critically ill in hospital, her life was saved by surgeons and A&E staff at Northampton General Hospital and in the four years since, she has made a partial recovery.
Now an exhibition to mark her graduation has launched, which references the accident and her injuries, and which was attended by the hospital staff who ensured she was alive to create it.
Mareika said: “After the accident, I didn’t know if I’d be able to paint or produce art again.
“The recovery process is an ongoing struggle and it is quite hard to deal with on a daily basis.
After the accident, I didn’t know if I’d be able to paint or produce art again.Mareika Gillett
“I’ve based a lot of my coursework on the accident and my treatment and that’s been a self-healing process for me.
“I’d like to work as an art psychotherapist because I do have a huge interest in art, medicine and science and if I can use my experience to help other people, that would be very rewarding.”
Following the initial treatment to save her life, Mareika faced a daunting road to recovery involving five separate operations, specialist treatment to repair nerve damage in her arm and intensive physiotherapy as she learned to walk again.
Mareika’s art and her degree dissertation explores generally the use of medical interventions and science on the human body.
Her exhibition reflects the severity of her injuries, including some photographs of the vehicle that hit her and the aftermath of her multiple operations.
The exhibition includes a video installation incorporating photographs taken during her most recent surgery.
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Alistair Jepson said: “I was thrilled to receive an invitation to view Mareika’s exhibition; it’s so nice to be remembered and appreciated.
“I remember Mareika’s injuries well, as I was the consultant on call the day she was admitted.
“She has shown tremendous determination in recovering from these injuries and her interest in things medical and in healing is clearly demonstrated in her work, which was really of a high standard and very enjoyable to see.”
Edward Crawfurd, a trauma orthopaedic consultant, said: “It was a joy to see Mareika’s work which demonstrated her ability to combine anatomical and scientific concepts to produce fascinating works of art.
“It was wonderful to see how, through her determination to get better, she has made a great recovery and used the experience to the benefit of her work.”
The exhibition is open to the public and runs during the day until Sunday, June 21, at Avenue Campus.