Sculpting Surgery with Eleanor Crook by Lucy Burscough

Please be aware that this article contains photographs of simulations of facial surgery.

The models pictured below were made at a workshop with the brilliant anatomical sculptor Eleanor Crook. The workshop took place in the Gordon Museum in the Kings College Guy's Campus, London. The museum houses some fascinating historical anatomical wax sculptures and so it was the perfect setting to learn more about the techniques employed to make them. The operation that was to be illustrated was a forehead skin flap operation which was famously developed by surgeon Harold Gillies during WW1 at Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup. These operations were documented in pastel drawings by Henry Tonks. You can see the drawings and read more about Gillies and Tonks here.

Eleanor delivered a fantastic workshop which recognised the bravery of the soldiers who were living with devastating facial injuries and celebrated the ingenuity and courage of surgeons dealing with so many traumatic wounds, thinking on their feet and developing and honing novel techniques in response. Eleanor went on to discuss the impact on society of the return of so many disfigured soldiers and how that was reflected in the art that was created at the time, by artists like Otto DIX, Georg Grosz and Able Gance, political anti-war statements that condemned the horrors war but were perhaps not so sympathetic to the soldiers themselves. 

 

I am so grateful to have been allowed to participate in the workshop that was designed for medical illustrators. It was a real pleasure to get to spend time with a group of women with such an interesting range of specialisms. You can see Eleanor's fantastic work here.

Facing Out Art Sessions at Maggie's by Lucy Burscough

A very important part of the Facing Out project offers Maggie's Centre visitors, people with a cancer diagnosis and their family and friends, a chance to get involved in arts and crafts activities and experience the benefits to well-being that creating together can bring. These are delivered as six week blocks interspersed with the sessions delivered by Manchester Museum and The Whitworth. The art sessions are kindly funded by a donation to the centre and was very much appreciated by those who took part.

We managed to have a conversation that could have been quite upsetting, but because we had the willow to work on we could focus on that when we needed to and it helped us to get through the conversation without being overwhelmed
— Workshop participant

The workshops were a mixture of crafts and art and as such there was something for everyone, including those who insisted that they couldn't draw a stick man!

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The workshops were well attended with some sessions seeing as many as thirty participants having a go. It was a great pleasure to work together to have fun, ignite our creative sparks and end up with some beautiful objects and smiles on our faces!

Manchester Museum at Maggie's by Lucy Burscough

In earlier posts I have written about some of the wonderful Facing Out sessions at Maggie's Manchester where curators from Manchester Museum came in to talk to centre visitors about some of the fascinating objects that they had brought with them. These further sessions were also fantastic, filled with fascinating stories and lively chat.

Phil Rispin joined us to talk about Entomology, the study of insects. Phil brought a fine selection of insects from the collection along with a font of knowledge that he shared with us. We were particularly interested in hearing about local insects and where to see usual ones, how to set up the equipment to attract, observe and record the myriad of moths in our own gardens, and what we can do to make our gardens more insect friendly. 

 

The next week Michelle Scott came to talk about Egyptology. A highlight was hearing about an ancient Egyptian piece originally accessioned into the Museum's collection as a 'miscellaneous object' which turned out to be a piece of technology that told the story of a historic arms race and the ingenuity of these ancient people. The object looked like a white stone bobbin, sadly broken in half but inscribed with beautiful hieroglyphs. Michelle was masterful in building the tension and intrigue as she told its story and eventually revealed what the object was. Egypt was being attacked by its neighbours who came on two person chariots which allowed one to drive and a second to use a bow and arrow. Egypt didn't yet have this technology and so was losing battles and land. And then, when our object was invented, Egypt began winning the arms race! It is a finial of a yoke-saddle that allowed the Egyptians to build a much more manoeuvrable single person chariot, one which could be steered with the hips whilst firing a bow and arrow! 

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But the story didn't finish there, Michelle them turned to looking at the hieroglyphs and what they said was so exciting: "Amenhotep-bringer of fear to foreign lands". This was likely a finial from a royal chariot! And we were able to pass it round and have a physical connection to a king living around 3,500 years ago. What a privilege!

Finally, Karen Brackenridge came along with two of the Museum's volunteers and they brought objects from the money collection and medical pieces, some of which were on loan from the Manchester Museum of Medicine and Health. They brought medicinal minerals, such as barite, which is used in a barium meal, a diagnostic test used to detect abnormalities of the esophagus, stomach and small bowel using X-ray imaging; calcite, which can be used as an antacid, and gypsum, used in plaster casts. From the Egyptology collection they brought  an ear stone amulet, used as a kind of supernatural phone, whispered into to appeal to the god's for good health. More modern items were a Victorian trepanning drill, used to cut a hole in the skull and an infant bronchoscope dated 1910, a very early version of a life-saving device used to extract foreign objects from the throat. Really unusual objects! The pre-decimal coins that Karen chatted with the group about inspired lots of conversations about days gone by and we enjoyed Karen's easy manner and the relaxed nature of this session. A perfect fit for Maggie's!

These sessions were delivered with the intention of offering Maggie's Centre visitors, people living with cancer and their family and friends, the opportunity to experience the learning opportunities and sheer wonder that engaging with museum objects and meeting the experts who study them can bring. Many thanks to all the curators and volunteers who shared their time and insights and thanks also to the centre visitors who came and shared their wonderful enthusiasm and curiosity! The sessions were facilitated by Wendy Gallagher, Arts for Health Partnership Manager at Manchester Museum. It was a fabulous programme Wendy, thank you!

 

 

Facing Out at Manchester Science Festival : Day Two by Lucy Burscough

The Facing Out conference day two took quite a different format to the more hands-on day one.  Today was more focused on conversation and discussion, with presentations that very much embraced the interdisciplinary nature of the project and hoped to explore, in a stimulating, inclusive and creative way, some of the challenges of living with an altered appearance and how they may be recognised, addressed and overcome.  

The delegates were an interesting and dynamic group, including people from a medical background; music therapists, artists and arts for health practitioners; representatives from Changing Faces - the national charity for people with a disfigurement- along with people who have experienced what it is like to live with a facial difference. All had a great deal to bring to the conversations!

The day began with my own presentation which was an overview of my art practice and how it developed to included arts for health activities. I also talked about the themes of my work and how they have fed into my thoughts when approaching the Facing Out project. I introduced the group to my thoughts about the gaze, both the artist's gaze when painting an individual, and also the gaze experienced by people who live with a facial disfigurement. I hope that by being painted, depicted with a strong outward gaze, the 'Facing Out' portraiture subjects might be in a position to encourage others to consider the individual beyond the roles of 'one who is disfigured' or 'cancer patient' and see more of the person as a whole and take away a deeper sense of empathy and understanding.

The second presentation was as much a revelation to me as it was to the rest of the group. I met Mr Partha Vaiude when he was taking part in Eleanor Crook's anatomical sculpture workshop that became Day One of this conference. At this first meeting, I was really impressed by his contribution to the group, his insights into anatomy as it relates to  plastic surgery, and the very fact that he was there, willing to recognise that interaction with an artist might inform his own practice. He obviously wasn't conforming to the stereotypes that often surround surgeons as arrogant or imperious! My ears really pricked up when he mentioned that he was the first member of his family for five generations not to have followed art as a career. What a heritage and what a fascinating position from which to embark on a career in plastic surgery! I was interested to hear about what Partha considered to be the crossovers between art and surgical practice and was delighted when he agreed to come and speak.

He is an artist in his own right and he just put everything into perspective for me. It changed my outlook on my own surgery.
— Trudi Proctor, in response to Partha Vaiude's presentation

The presentation that Partha delivered went way beyond expectations, spanning the history of art and surgery, describing the birth of plastic surgery in ancient India as described and illustrated in the Sushruta Samhita, going on to look at perceptions of beauty and exploring Partha's thoughtful reflections on his own practice as it relates to his artwork. Partha called on us to consider facial plastic surgery at it's essence as an exercise in balancing of light, shape and form and in doing so we were given an insight into surgery as an artform.

We were very pleased to welcome Professor Diana Harcourt from the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England to speak. The centre is the world’s largest research group focusing on the role of appearance and body image in people’s lives. Diana is interested in the psycho-social impact of an altered appearance or visible difference, offering support for those who are affected and interventions to help people who are making decisions about surgical treatment that will alter their appearance. The presentation that Diana gave was as interesting as it was informative. Drawing on the centre's research findings, Diana recognised and described some of the challenges that people with a disfigurement meet in their day to day lives and when coming to terms with an altered appearance. She then went on to outline strategies that might be employed by those affected to build resilience, confront specific challenges and live well with an altered appearance. It was fantastic to have Diana with us and have an opportunity to hear about some of the excellent work that is being undertaken at the Centre for Appearance Research, and, through engaging with her presentation and chatting over lunch and in the group discussions, acknowledge the very particular challenges that are faced by some of our conference delegates on a daily basis. 

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[The day] made me think a lot about the projection of the self and the vanity of the age, but [I was] also reassured by the alternative confidence that can be gained through adversity in terms of disfigurement
— Conference delegate

The lunchtime break saw the group moving into the gallery's learning studio and while the buffet was eaten, delegates had the opportunity to chat with Liz Gill, Research Fellow/Reconstructive Scientist at MMU. Liz showed us a display of 3D printed prosthesis and talked about the future of reconstructive surgery in the age of the digital scanner and 3D printer.  Chris Ball came along from MadLab to demonstrate just how this equipment works. He brought with him a 3D printer and digital scanner and delegates were able to be scanned and have a mini facsimile of their head printed out! 

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After lunch, we kicked off with a reading by Graeme Heward from his book, 'Riding With The Alien' in which he tells the story of his experience of facial cancer and living with an altered appearance. Graeme's book gives an intimate insight into the particular challenges faced by people in his situation and was an invaluable read when embarking on the Facing Out project. It was great to hear Graeme read from the book and his generous openness opened the door for other participants to speak freely about their own stories. Thanks Graeme.

Next up was a very interesting presentation from Dr Anne Marie Martindale who has been on board with Facing Out from the very beginning and whose input has helped to shape the direction that the project has taken. Anne-Marie is a health anthropologist, experienced researcher, and lecturer at the University of Manchester. Her PhD explored the relationship between faces, acquired disfigurement and identity. The presentation gave an overview of her research into the relationship between faces, acquired ‘disfigurement’ and identity. The first part explored the cultural life of faces over the last two thousand years drawing on a range of influences including Ancient Greece and James Bond. Anne Marie questioned the cultural tropes that place disfigured people in the role of 'villain' and the hackneyed device that describes the physically disfigured as morally corrupt, although the 'right' sort of scarring (away from the features, on a cheek perhaps) can also be used as a short-hand to signify heroism. 

The second section explored key findings from her 13 in-depth interviews with facially disfigured people from all across England. She focused on their stories and experiences of life, ‘disfigurement’ and identity. It was particularly interesting to listen to Anne Marie's stories drawn from interviews and relate them to some of Professor Harcourt's insights from earlier in the day. I was particularly struck by the anecdotes that Anne Marie shared that gave life to the Professor Harcourt's understanding that the intensity of the disfigurement doesn't always relate to the impact on the individual. Her presentation vividly illustrated that to some people a relatively small scar can be more detrimental to their mental health than a much more extreme facial difference as experienced by another individual. 

Anne Marie's presentation led into a round table discussion, with the delegates splitting into four groups each with a question to address. The discussion topics were captured on paper and were fed back to the wider group.

1 How would you describe/define the relationship between faces and identity?

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2 Does facial ‘disfigurement’ influence a person sense of who they are?

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3 What do you think are the pitfalls and opportunities becoming a portraiture subject as someone who has an altered appearance?

4 Do you think that engaging with arts and craft activities can help people who have experienced facial ‘disfigurement’? How do you think that might work?

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Discussion about how art may help with the acceptance of an altered identity led us into the more practical elements of the day's activities as the group were taken on a dedicated tour around The Whitworth's current exhibitions with special focus given to artworks that explored aspects of identity. The tour allowed the group to chat about the artworks informally as well as gain a deeper understanding of selected pieces hearing from the tour-guide about the intention of the artist, along with the narrative elements of the images and the artistic techniques used in creating them. We returned to our room thoroughly  inspired and ready to embark creating on our own art!

Wendy Gallagher, Arts for Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum, introduced the session, giving an overview of the galleries' outreach programme that specifically targets hospital patients and people living with illness. We watched a short film about 'Culture Shots' one of The Whitworth's initiatives that takes art and culture into hospitals.

Illustrator Daisy Strang then led a practical portraiture session which proved to us all that the fun and frolics that can be had when making art together are much more important the the finished work! It was arts for health in action and it sent us away from the Facing Out conference with smiles on our faces. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the day, both presenting and participating. I think it is safe to say that the day was a great success which brought together a wide variety of people and led to the sharing of personal stories, academic research and arts for health approaches. Please continue to follow Facing Out, I do hope that we can meet up again and continue the conversation when the exhibition launches in 2019!

Facing Out at Manchester Science Festival and The Whitworth : Day One. by Lucy Burscough

Facing Out came to Manchester Science Festival last week in the form of a two day conference which explored themes of the wider project within the inspirational setting of The Whitworth, the art gallery of the University of Manchester. Day one saw Eleanor Crook return to the gallery to deliver her outstanding facial anatomy workshop. I have been excited about Eleanor's collaboration with Facing Out since I took the same workshop last year when the fabulous Clod Ensemble brought it to Manchester. During the day I learnt the names and functions of the major facial muscles as one by one we made them, sculpting them in wax to be added onto a plaster cast of a skull. 

This is the most fun that I have ever had in my entire life! I might have to become an artist!
— Claire, Trainee Advanced Practice Nurse, The Christie Hospital

Facing Out Day One drew together a lovely and diverse group of people which included medical practitioners, academics, artists, gallery professionals and theatre craftspeople. I opened the day by introducing the Facing Out project, showing a sneak preview of one of the project's portraits and talking about facial disfigurement due to cancer.

Eleanor brought along some models of the early reconstruction techniques developed by Sir Harold Gillies at Queen Mary's Hospital at Sidcup, where he worked with the unprecedented number of soldiers who were returning from the trenches of the First World War with facial injuries. His patients refereed to themselves as 'The Guinea Pig Club' as much of Gillies work involved the use of novel experimental surgical techniques. It was fascinating to see Eleanor's models which brought to life Gillie's black and white photographic images. They recorded the stages of pioneering forehead skin flap operations, a technique is still being used today, and is one which has been experienced by one of our 'Facing Out' portraiture subjects. 

It is a remarkable workshop, not least because of Eleanor's depth of anatomical knowledge which she shares so generously, but also because of the humour, the fascinating asides and the storytelling that she weaves into the practical construction of each muscle. One comes away having learnt so much more that the anatomy of the face! 

I would like to thank Eleanor Crook, Wendy Gallagher who, as Arts For Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth, facilitated the event. Thanks also to Dr Anne Marie Martindale whose research has fed into 'Facing Out' and who was instrumental in planning this event. Thanks to Caroline Johnson who made a beautiful drawing to record the day (that's for a future post!). Thanks also to our partners, University of Manchester's 'Engaging Our Communities' initiative, The Whitworth, Manchester Science Festival and Arts Council England.

Special thanks to all the participants whose enthusiasm and interest made this such an enjoyable day!

Manchester Museum at Maggie's. Week 3: Earth Sciences by Lucy Burscough

When David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Sciences at Manchester Museum came to Maggie's Manchester to deliver a talk as part of the Facing Out programme of events, centre visitors were expecting to see some interesting fossils. They did see fossils, and they were interesting, but what they also discovered was the fascinating life story of a pioneering female scientist whose work in Manchester blazed a trail that influenced antarctic expeditions, led to pit owners naming plant species and freed women to plan their own families and take ownership of their reproductive rights.

The woman was Marie Stopes and David told her life story through the objects that he brought with him from the museum. We learnt of her formidable intellect and strength of personality that saw her able to break through into the male preserve of scientific academia, how she used coal balls to identify new species of fossil plants and how she won a scholarship which led to her travelling to Munich where she fell in love with a Japanese scientist only to be spurned by him when she attempted to be reunited with him in his home country. Not miss an opportunity to further her research, she used her trip to Japan to collect exquisite plant fossil samples laid down in the uniquely suited environment of a still, volcanic lake. We saw the veins in ancient plants that must have thrilled Mary as they did us. 

Back in Manchester Miss Stopes was introduced to Captain Scott at the Manchester Museum. We know this happened- David found his signature in the Museum's visitor's book! Unable to persuade him to let her join him on an expedition, she did convince him to find examples of the plant fossil record on his expedition to the antarctic, adding to the proof that the continents were once joined and formed a super continent. When Scott's body was recovered after his fateful mission to be the first people to get to the South Pole failed, plant fossil specimens were found near his body.

We may have heard of Mary Stopes and how her pioneering work led to the introduction of family planning as we know it, but hearing about her fearless quest to fulfil her academic potential and pursue her scientific interests was as inspirational as it was fascinating. Thank you David. What a fantastic story to share with the centre visitors at Maggie's and what a fantastic way to de-stress, by being led on a story back in time and around the world!

Manchester Museum at Maggie's. Week 2: Botany by Lucy Burscough

This week's visitor from the Manchester Museum was Rachel Webster, Curator of Botany. The museum's herbology collection is enormous and filled with beautiful botanical drawings, thousands of examples of pressed plants from around the world and the hand written notes and cuttings from journals made by the Victorian gentlemen collectors who gathered them together.

Rachel has a multitude of objects to choose between and she did not disappoint with the selection that she made to bring to Maggie's. Each object told a wider story, some illustrated the changing environment of the area surrounding us, while others told of the Victorian passion for plant-collecting and the characters whose search for interesting specimens saw them creating global networks of fellow flower fanatics. We were able to peruse beautifully bound books of botanical drawings and a box of unusual looking sweetcorn cobs gave an insight into the processes behind the development of modern vegetable varieties! It was truly compelling talk, and very informally delivered to centre visitors as they relaxed on comfy sofas. Perfect for the homely atmosphere that is so much a part of Maggie's Manchester.

Manchester Museum at Maggie's. Week 1: Frogs and Reptiles by Lucy Burscough

For the past three weeks on a Thursday afternoons the Manchester Museum has come to Maggie's Manchester as part of the Facing Out programme of events. We have been wowed to be given the opportunity to handle some of the objects from the museum's wide ranging collection and fascinated to hear stories from the expert curators who came along to share their passion for their subjects withcentre visitors. 

The first session was led by Andrew Gray who is the curator of Herpetology at the museum and an expert on reptiles and frogs. As the museum is part of Manchester University, Andrew not only cares for the reptiles and frogs that visitors can see and learn about in the museum's vivarium, he also conducts research and teaches.

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Andrew is particularly interested in conservation, supporting some of the world's most critically endangered species of frogs which are native to Costa Rica, where he leads expeditions to gather live eggs for breeding and the environment data needed to keep them in tip top condition. On one such trip Andrew rediscovered a species that was previously thought to be extinct! Through captive breeding programmes Andrew and his team at the museum and university support species that are on the brink of extinction, sometimes breeding species in captivity for the very first time. It was fascinating to hear about the frogs, exciting tales from the expeditions and about the fantastic conservation programmes that the team have initiated. Amazing that such important work is being undertaken behind the scenes at the museum!

 

 

Painting Annie by Lucy Burscough

I met Annie within a few days of starting work at Maggie's Centre Manchester when she was introduced to me by Sinead, the centre head. Sinead described Annie as 'a big part of the Maggie's family' and as I have got to know her, I can't work out if her place in the family is as everyone's favourite gran or the cheeky teenage rebel!

Annie is great. She is warm and chatty, funny, comforting and cheerful, and she shares these qualities with centre visitors in her role as a Maggie's volunteer. Annie welcomes people to the centre, giving tours and directing them to the various activities and practical support that is on offer, then takes her place around the kitchen island ready to lend a sympathetic ear, tell a funny tale or let you in on where to buy cheap Doc Marten's. Annie is retired, coming from a background in social care, and, not willing to let her counselling skills go to waste, she volunteers at Maggie's and at the local food bank. Annie's son Stephen is also a volunteer at Maggie's and he has obviously inherited some of his Mum's warmth and conviviality! 

When I met Annie she still had stitches from having undergone surgery following the removal of a malignant melanoma from below her eye. The area was reconstructed using the soft, hairless skin from her upper, inner arm and, by the time we took the photos for the portrait, it was beginning to heal well. I wanted to be sure to capture Annie's infectious smile so I called in another volunteer, Hilary, to stand behind me to make Annie laugh. It worked a treat. In my mind I call this painting 'The Hilary Effect'!

 I really enjoyed painting Annie surrounded by the beautiful wooden struts that are a unique and stunning feature in the design of Maggie's Manchester, and holding one of the lovely, slightly wonky ceramic mugs. I think, when you look at the painting, you can see exactly what Annie looked like as a little girl, full of fun and giggles! 

Maggie's Culture Crawl at The Whitworth by Lucy Burscough

I have had my first taste of some of the fantastic fund-raising activities that keep Maggie's Centre Manchester up and running when I was asked by The Whitworth to be involved in the Maggie's Culture Crawl 2017. The event was a 10km walk from the Maggie's Centre to Manchester town centre, stopping along the way at some of the city's top cultural attractions. A really fun night with giving back to Maggie's at its heart.

The walkers arrived at The Whitworth after a send off at Maggie's which included a choir, brass band and motor-bike cavalcade followed by stops at the Gallery of Costume and nibbles in Rusholme. Earlier in the evening The Whitworth celebrated the opening of an exhibition of artworks by the Raqs Media Collective entitled 'Twilight Language'.  The culture crawlers were given printing plates to emboss with drawings inspired by the exhibition in preparation for block-printing. Delivering hands-on arts for health activities for the 270 walkers who eventually signed up for the culture crawl was a little daunting but some military-style planning and the help of Maggie's staff and volunteers helped the workshop to be a great, if crowded, success!

Painting Bern by Lucy Burscough

Facing Out was inspired by meeting Bern Corri whilst I was painting in the atrium at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital during the CurARTive project. Bern had just lost his eye to a facial cancer and was about to embark on an extensive programme of reconstructive surgery. We hit it off (which is hard not to do with Bern-he's a love and funny as you like) and struck up a friendship which has led to his being the first portraiture subject of Facing Out.

Bern is a one man 'raising awareness' media outlet and through his honest, open and often hilarious Facebook posts, I was able to follow the progress of his facial reconstruction. The process was obviously arduous and distressing but Bern's humour never seemed to fail him and I hoped to try and reflect that in his portrait. Visitors at Maggie's who saw the work develop often commented on the 'twinkle in his eye' and that Bern was clearly 'a character', so I think that some of Bern's personality must have been captured! 

Bern is a poet and I really enjoy reading his work, particularly those poems that address some of the challenges that are faced by people who find themselves unable to work because of illness. It was great to be able to share some of Bern's poetry by incorporating it into his painting, especially when fellow cancer patients who have seen the painting have been moved by recognising a shared experience. 

Residency at Maggie's Centre Manchester by Lucy Burscough

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Facing Out has begun with a residency at Maggie's Centre Manchester. Maggie's Manchester is a beautiful place with a beautiful ethos. With a very light touch it provides practical, emotional and social support to people who have cancer and their family and friends. Run by welcoming and knowledgeable staff together with a group of friendly volunteers, Maggie's becomes a home from home for those people who are spending time at the neighbouring specialist cancer hospital, The Christie. 

Maggie's was designed by (Sir Norman) Foster and Partners and it's award winning architecture offers visitors a calming, therapeutic environment which allows conversations to happen naturally and friendships to be formed within its communal spaces over a good cup of tea. The kettle is always on.  Maggie's recognises the vital place that conversation holds in boosting well-being and promoting resilience when people are faced with illness, an understanding that is mirrored in the delivery of Facing Out, where painting is performance and conversation is key. 

Painting at Maggie's Manchester and spending time with centre visitors, its volunteers and staff is a pleasure and a privilege. If you would like to find out more about Maggie's or make a donation to help with their fantastic work, please visit 

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