Inspirational act of Blackpool woman whose painting ‘saved her life’ after ‘unfortunate’ diagnosis

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Kirsty is wheelchair-bound and runs a page dedicated to her art called ‘The Way I Roll’

 

Kirsty McGlynn and the mural on Granville Road, Blackpool.
Kirsty McGlynn and the mural on Granville Road, Blackpool. (Image: The Way I Roll/ Facebook)

An incredible woman from Blackpool has painted a Christmas mural on Granville Road in Blackpool just to put a ‘smile’ on people’s faces as they pass.

Kirsty McGlynn, 48, originally from Leicester, lives in Blackpool with her ‘supportive’ partner Helen, children and grandchildren.

She is also a self-taught artist who spent ‘everyday’ in lockdown honing her skills with the paintbrush.

Kirsty moved to Blackpool in 2010 and was diagnosed with Cauda equina syndrome two years later. The condition means that the nerves in her spine are compressed. She has since had operations on her neck which have been ‘successful’ and have kept Kirsty painting – she told LancsLive she cannot feel her legs and lower back properly due to her condition.

Kirsty’s festive mural, which features Father Christmas and the baby Jesus, is on Granville Road and took Kirsty only seven hours to paint.

“It just happened, I knew what I had to paint and I knew what it would mean to people, like it meant to me and my family, so it only took seven hours, I can’t quite believe it myself, I’m still shocked,” she said. “It’s probably needed right now.”

Kirsty has also just finished painting a wall in her house, to make up for her lack of Christmas tree this year – after making space for the ‘babies’ earlier this year, Kirsty’s living room became a bedroom.

(Image: James Maloney/Lancs Live)

“We haven’t got the space for a tree, having the wall painted in the kitchen means they can still decorate a tree.”

Kirsty did a foundation art diploma last year and got a distinction which granted her a place on the fine art degree this year.

She has sadly had to quit the course due to a lack of funding.

“The thing is,” she said, “I’ve not lost a limb, I’m still able to paint and draw and make people happy, so it’s not the end of the world, it’s just unfortunate.”

Kirsty’s grandchildren came to live with her and Helen in July this year.

Kirsty has painted a tree in her kitchen for her grandchildren to decorate this Christmas.
Kirsty has painted a tree in her kitchen for her grandchildren to decorate this Christmas.

“it changed my benefit situation, being in a wheelchair. I got certain benefits anyway, but it changed it, which meant I’ve got to put them first and that’s how it is,” she told LancsLive.

Kirsty started painting when she became wheelchair bound ‘six or seven’ years ago.

“It probably saved my life, to be honest, I was very depressed and down, I wasn’t feeling very independent and it’s something I do that I don’t have to ask for any help really,” Kirsty said. “It’s a bit of a life-saver, really.”

“I like to make people feel good with what I do, even with the little paintings.”

During lockdown, Kirsty did a painting of an elderly hand being kissed, which she said was ‘based on a photo’ a woman had shared to her Facebook page of her elderly parents.

Kirsty said: “I couldn’t find her again, I’d lost her, so I called the picture ‘The Last Photo’ not knowing that her father had passed away.”

Kirsty shared an appeal to find the woman who had shared the original photograph so that she could send her the painting.

“I found her and I was able to send it, obviously you don’t charge for something like that, its rewarding enough when you’ve made somebody feel happy,” she added.

(Image: James Maloney/Lancs Live)

On whether Blackpool inspires her art, Kirsty said:”I love Blackpool. Being in a wheelchair as well, its quite accessible. Where I come from in Leicester, had I been unfortunate enough to have hurt my back in Leicester, I don’t think I’d have been as independent there.

“I can get in my wheelchair here, go to the shops, go to town, go wherever. There, I would have had to ask for help.”

Kirsty runs an art page on Facebook after her son encouraged her to share her paintings online. The page is named ‘The Way I Roll’ which honours both Kirsty’s wheelchair and her ‘roller’ paintbrushes.

Her ‘ultimate dream’ is to go around the ‘dreary’ and ‘forgotten areas of Blackpool’ to paint people’s walls and gates.

“I’d like to just cheer them up with nice things, things that are a little bit thought-provoking, that make people look and go ‘look, that’s alright’, I just can’t afford it.”

Kirsty will be painting over the festive mural in January – and she already has an idea in mind for its replacement.

“It will make people smile,” she said. “What I usually do is a rough outline and put ‘coming soon, The Way I Roll, watch this space’, then I go out and do my thing.”

Whilst she’s painting, people will share their support as they pass.

“I will always paint something nice,” she said, “I won’t paint something controversial, I won’t get a bee in my bonnet about Boris, I’m no Banksy, I paint with a paint brush like you would on a canvas, it takes hours, but its worth every little brushstroke.”