A former patient who documented her time at The James Cook University Hospital through drawings has had her art exhibited by the Royal Academy of Arts.
14-year-old Cristiana Borg was admitted to James Cook when she came back to Middlesbrough from her home in London on one of her regular visits to see her family.
At the time, like many other teenagers, she had suffered from the stress of lockdown, isolation and the sudden return to school.
She restricted and then stopped her eating, losing over three stone in less than three months.
Despite numerous GP visits and attending A&E twice, her weight continued to decline and while back in the north east, despite at first seeming better, she became so ill she was close to collapsing and was admitted to James Cook.
While in the Middlesbrough hospital, where she was born, Cristiana was gifted some pens and art paper to keep her occupied.
She soon began to draw incredibly detailed images of the view from the window beside her bed, the ward corridor, and as she got better and was able to venture off the ward, she drew the coffee shop and WHSmith.
“Drawing was my only escape from the oppressive food regimes and medical check-ups,” said Cristiana. “It gave me a sense of purpose and success as people enjoyed them.
“The final two images show WHSmith and the café, happier spaces where I would be taken in my wheelchair to meet family and friends who helped me feel more connected to real life and were so important in supporting me in my recovery.”
After several weeks Cristiana was allowed home to her Grandma Sheelagh and Grandad Bill’s in Normanby.
But she was far from out of the woods and started to lose weight again before receiving follow-up care from The Middlesbrough Eating Disorder Team.
During this time her grandad would drive her out every day to different local eating places to keep her from becoming anxious while her grandma took Cristiana’s young sister back to London so she could return to school.
Back to London
Eventually over several months Cristiana’s condition slowly steadied and she was able to return to London where, despite some ups and downs, she very slowly got back to ‘normal’ and returned to school.
Cristiana’s mum, professional opera singer Suzannah Clarke, said: “To the family’s surprise and delight, she was chosen to exhibit from over 21,000 entries. I asked the RA and I believe they chose around 500 pieces, so she has done very well.
When we were told she was a winner it really gave her a boost, just at the right time.
“Particular thanks must go to James Cook Hospital and the staff, as well as to the Middlesbrough Eating Disorder Team who were both exceptional in Cristiana’s care.”
Cristiana is continuing to make a slow recovery and hopes sharing her art will help others going through something similar.
To view all of Cristiana’s art visit: youngartists.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/2022/77072?query=cristina