Leukaemia survivor speaks about the power of the arts…

One of the beneficiaries of this year’s RBSA Charity Auction is Cure Leukaemia. ALFIE HANCOX found out why you should get behind this great cause and join in the fundraising on November 20th…

Jaymz Goodman knows more than most that the happier you are, the stronger you are… and he believes the arts are a vital part of modern-day healthcare.

Three years ago, Jaymz was diagnosed with T-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of nineteen. He underwent gruelling but ground-breaking treatment before going into full remission in just six months.

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Jaymz remembers the blank walls and clinical feel of his local hospitals in Telford and Shrewsbury, and how these contrasted with the Young Persons Unit (YPU) and Centre for Clinical Haematology ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

“One of the amazing things about the YPU I stayed in is that it’s bright, vibrant, and there are pictures all over the walls. In the kitchen there’s a jukebox with light-up colours and air bubbles floating around, so the atmosphere is one of happiness and vibrance, whereas Telford or Shrewsbury felt dated, with brick-cladding and whitewashed walls.

“Everything there felt clinical, like you’re there to be treated because you’re ill. There’s no sense of colour, there’s no sense of life. Because of that I’d always want to spend my time in Birmingham, not only because there I’m surrounded by teenagers but because it felt like a happier place to be; it felt like there was more chance of survival.”

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Jaymz believes it is vital to patients’ wellbeing that hospitals make use of art: “Art and colour and vibrance bring the best out of people even in the worst of times.

“I think a touch of art, something to make you focus your attention on other things, can help make people a little less worried and better able to deal with the things they’re going through.”

Jaymz remembers well how the arts helped him through his treatment and recovery.

“It wasn’t just art as in paintings and pictures. Music was the biggest help for me, to the extent that I worked for a record label for some time and I did some talent scouting while in hospital, which kept me exceptionally busy!”

During his treatment Jaymz lost the feeling in his hands, but he was still able to play the drums. Now that the feeling has returned, he’s learnt to play both the ukulele and guitar.

Jaymz found another useful outlet in writing: “You hear about people being sick and having cancer, but you never really know what’s going on, so I wanted to convey what I went through on a daily basis, even if it would bore people to death with the details. I also wanted to document everything for my own benefit.’

Jaymz enjoys looking at art, and was really drawn to the work of Robert Perry during our interview, which took place at the RBSA Gallery during Rob’s solo show.

“I like really abstract art; art that makes you think. Picasso is one of my favourite artists. I went to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and saw a display there, and it was just so weird and quirky, but that’s the love of it.

Winter Nightfall in the Black Country
Robert Perry RBSA, ‘Winter Nightfall in the Black Country’

“But saying that, Rob upstairs [Robert Perry]— I’ve always enjoyed driving at night seeing the city lights go past, and looking at Rob’s panoramic night painting I just get lost in the wonder of what it would be like to be stood there just observing.

“I think anything that can evoke an emotion, anything that can take me to a certain place just by looking at it is the kind of art that I love.”

Rob has generously donated two of his stunning landscape paintings to the RBSA Charity Auction, which takes place on November 20 at Deutsche Bank, Birmingham.

Run by Bonhams and in the glitzy surroundings of Brindleyplace, it’s sure to be an exciting night!

BUY TICKETS

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Robert Plant with artist Louise Cobbold

Jaymz was also very excited to see that rock legend Robert Plant has signed the stunning portrait of himself painted and donated by Louise Cobbold. The proceeds from this item will will be donated to Cure Leukaemia and Jaymz is very grateful:

“I think it’s amazing that such a distinguished member of the West Midlands community is supporting a blood cancer charity. It really shows that no matter your walk of life, you can always find opportunities to help others and make a difference.”

Jaymz told us what it is about Cure Leukaemia that makes the charity so special…

“I’ve worked with other charities like Macmillan, but Cure Leukaemia was probably the first one where I had spoken to and spent time with every single person who worked there almost within a few weeks of starting to do things with them.

“When you understand their passion and drive to help other people around them, I think that has to have a special place in anyone’s heart.

“The fact they funded the specialist research nurse who did the trial that saved my life… how could I not support the people that made sure I’m not dead?”

Bobby Bridgeman, Head of Communications at Cure Leukaemia, added: “Patients are central to everything we do at Cure Leukaemia. The public can relate to patients and empathise with what they are going through or have gone through in the past. Their stories encourage and inspire people to donate, take on gruelling bike challenges or run half marathons in the pouring rain! People respond to people and their stories, and that’s why patients will always be central to our work.”

You can read more about Jaymz’s treatment journey here.

By Alfie Hancox
RBSA Blog Volunteer

The RBSA Charity Auction takes place on November 20, 5.30pm at Deutsche Bank, 5 Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2BL. You can purchase your ticket for £10 by:

  • Paying by cash in person at the Gallery
  • Calling the Gallery on 0121 236 4353 to pay by card over the phone
  • Sending a cheque in the post (payable to ‘RBSA’) to RBSA, 4 Brook St, Birmingham B3 1SA
  • By paying via our website 

The auction catalogue, with images and information about each artist and artworks can be downloaded from the RBSA website 

Images of artworks can also be viewed at Flickr 

Banner image: Jaymz Goodman during treatment. Images of Jaymz supplied by Cure Leukaemia.

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