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____________________[PRO] Mark Ware: Stroke of imagination

Mark Ware had a successful career as an artist, independent video producer and photographer. Then, on April 28 1996, at the age of 39, he suffered a severe stroke. It turned his life upside down.

He was left paralysed, visually impaired, unable to feed himself, and in great pain. "Although my thoughts were occupied with artwork, my physical condition prevented the development of ideas," Ware recalls. At one stage, his vision was so badly affected that he would draw the shapes of words from memory "in the hope that I would be able to decipher them at a later date".

While the initial months and years following the stroke left Ware extremely disabled and focused on "simply surviving", his gradual rehabilitation made him determined to find new outlets for his creative energies. He went from being told he would never walk or talk again, to producing first-rate multimedia art exhibitions.

"Since the stroke, I've concentrated on creative writing (multimedia performance and drama for stage, film and television), digital photography and the development of sculptural ideas," Ware says.

He has won an award to develop a screenplay dealing with disability issues, and has been given a development grant from Anglia TV to make short films.

The development of digital photography has enabled him to keep alive his passion for pictures, Ware says. "Although photographic practices have altered over recent years, the basic creative and technical requirements remain the same."

After winning a grant from the Arts Council, he put on a successful show, "MiND GAMES", in Brighton last month. It incorporated digital photography, film-making, writing and performance. The first part of the show was a video composition based around a diary Ware kept following his stroke; the second part was a one-act dark comedy. "Although I don't set out to deal directly with issues of disability, inevitably all my work is touched by it in some way," he says.

Ware has big plans for the year ahead. This month, the works from MiND GAMES are being exhibited by Waitrose in a designated space at its Brighton store as part of its support for regional artists. Later, the work will tour. Ware has also been commissioned by the Arts Council to do public installation work.

Although still severely disabled, Ware is adamant that he can continue to use his experiences to inspire creativity. "Things are much better now, even though I'm still diagnosed as 80%-plus disabled," he says.

Stroke of imagination: Sudden paralysis and visual disability challenge artist
Mary O'Hara
The Guardian - United Kingdom; Jan 05, 2005
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