ARTIST Mary Parsons has used her talents to fight against her own long-term illness and to inspire others.

She has been brushing up her textile skills for a Swindon exhibition including pieces she created especially for the blind.

Mary has 23 pieces on show, a mix of felt pictures, textiles and paintings, in The Beehive pub, Prospect Hill, Old Town, until the end of the month.

Originally from Swindon, Mary went to art college in Yorkshire and says much of her work is heavily influenced by the colours and stark beauty of the Yorkshire countryside and the industrial buildings, mills, canals and mining operations that define the county.

“I often go back for inspiration to the photos and sketches of Yorkshire, particularly ones I took in my local park 20 years ago. It was a perfect autumn day and I’ve always loved those warm colours,’’ said Mary.

Shortly after leaving art college Mary was involved in a road traffic accident and suffered severe injuries which meant she had to put her art on hold for almost 10 years.

“It was difficult to sit, stand or even lie still,’’ she said.

But instead of giving up, or sitting around feeling sorry for herself, Mary knew she needed an active job and trained with the Guide Dogs For The Blind charity.

“I taught people to find their way around the city, and this too influenced what and how I paint now,’’ she said.

Mary tries to create artworks that people with sight impairments can still appreciate.

“I experimented with tactile books and pop up models, and also felt making in relief,’’ she said.

When her own health deteriorated she moved back to Swindon, where she set up as a self-employed visual impairment trainer.

“For quite a long time I couldn’t do anything creative because I had to prioritise work when my health was bad.’’

She now works for Swindon Council and is linked to doctors’ surgeries as a community navigator.

“The aim of my work is setting goals to get people with long term health conditions involved in the community, and to teach them how to manage their own health. I often take people to art and craft groups - I’m always pleased to get a client with creative interests,’’ she said.

She now plans to set up her own studio producing both textile art and paintings and is hoping to work alongside architects and interior designers. She is involved with the Experimental Drawing Hub, her work was exhibited with them in June, and she sells her felt-making pieces at craft fairs.

“It seems like my life is sorted now, not just that I am able to paint, but also I have space to do it, I have a supportive partner, Chris, who paints abstract art so we motivate each other, and I am in full time work,’’ she said.

Mary’s exhibition is free entry during pub opening hours and runs until the end of the month. For more details visit