Need some art inspiration? How about some motivation to live your best life? Meet Justine Martin.
In March 2011, Justine lived in Perth and started feeling unwell. Unfortunately, six months later, she was diagnosed with remitting relapsing MS. Due to her illness, she has specific cognitive difficulties, such as short-term memory loss, inability to count correctly, and the inability to multitask. In addition, her feet and legs have nerve agony that she describes as feeling like razor blades slicing through them, and at other times, feels like what she can only imagine, like electricity pouring out of them. She is the mother of two and grandmother to six.
As with all MS Sufferers, fatigue is a massive concern requiring frequent resting. Sometimes she needs a walking stick or wheelchair to help her with mobility.
When Justine’s world came crashing down around her, she had no choice but to adapt. The diagnosis and disabilities meant spending most of her days alone, never leaving the house or seeing anyone, causing her to suffer from sadness and anxiety.
Questioning what she might do with her life with a lot of soul-searching, she finally found her passion and calling. After consulting with her Neurologist, Justine was advised to find a pastime, and since she always wanted to learn to paint, that’s the path she took. Due to her severe anxiety, it took her three months to step through the door to her first class finally.
Attending the art classes was life-changing for Justine. Later that year, Justine and the family relocated to Geelong to be closer to family and support. Unfortunately, her partner left her not long after moving because he felt held back by Justine’s situation. Another blow to her self-esteem.
Justine started taking weekly art lessons at a Springdale community centre and MS Australia’s Social Support Day Program in Geelong. She also discovered a TV show on Channel 31 called Color In Your Life, in which she would discover more tips. Then everything started to fall into place. She continued to learn and surprised herself with what she was creating.
In April 2012, Justine entered her first exhibition, the Drysdale Rotary Art Show, and sold her first painting. She astounded that someone believed her work was worth spending their hard-earned money on and wanted to place it on their wall!.
In 2012 Justine submitted for a Go for Gold MS scholarship and was awarded $3000 to spend on art supplies. She purchased inks, watercolours, acrylic paints, graphite, pastels, oil paint, paintbrushes, pencils, art paper, canvas, and an SLR camera to stock up her art studio.
Since then, Justine has continued to enter exhibitions such as the State Trustee’s Connected Art Exhibition, IAN, Zonta, Royal Geelong, and Melbourne shows, Rotary Art shows, and three solo exhibitions at independent galleries. In addition, her work has been sold across the globe.
Her health determines Justine’s daily inspiration each day. Sometimes her vision is affected, so she creates abstracts on those days; other times, she has excruciating agony in her hands and can’t wield a paintbrush or pencil, so Justine discovered that she can still finger-paint with impasto acrylic. Nevertheless, there isn’t a single day that she doesn’t work on her art.
Justine has won several significant accolades for her art during the last eight years, including:
Zonta’s conviction, passion, and bravery are on display.
At Connected, she won the People’s Choice award four times and the Public Advocates Award last year.
Last year, ADEC presented her with the Disability Services Commissioner Award.
Justine has also placed; first, second and third, as well as commended, and highly commended in open fine arts competitions against abled body artists.
Justine’s studio is called JUZT Art Gallery. The studio showcases Justine’s work and beginner artists who are getting their start in the art industry.
Justine is the administrator of a Facebook page called Get My Art Recognized, which has just over 22k members and is for artists worldwide.
Justine’s health has been up and down in the last four years, three major heart surgeries, pericarditis, lived reticularis and three primary cancers Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma. She is now in full remission with ongoing treatment.
Bringing the drawing supplies to the chemo ward helped Justine cope with the treatment, using her art as a sort of meditation.
Justine teaches others about the benefits of art wellness through JUZT art Wellness Classes for other disabled individuals from her studio.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Justine. Best of luck.