St Albans woman with eyesight problems receives vision-saving surgery and wins art competition

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 September 2019

Gina Dunstan was awarded the Challenge Trophy in the St Albans Art Society Summer Art Exhibition 2019 for her creation (pictured) entitled Two cormorants fishing from The Rock. Picture: Submitted by Gina Dunstan

Gina Dunstan was awarded the Challenge Trophy in the St Albans Art Society Summer Art Exhibition 2019 for her creation (pictured) entitled Two cormorants fishing from The Rock. Picture: Submitted by Gina Dunstan

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A St Albans woman who lost the majority of her eyesight has received vision-saving surgery which resulted in her winning an art competition.

Gina Dunstan was awarded the Challenge Trophy in the St Albans Art Society Summer Art Exhibition 2019 for her creation entitled Two cormorants fishing from The Rock.

The piece looks down from a cliff edge in Monaco, where waves are crashing against the crag and two birds are perched.

Gina started the painting after visiting Monaco on holiday in October last year.

However, soon afterwards the 82-year-old developed opacification in her eyes and her vision started to deteriorate.

She said: "It was a frightening thing that happened because I didn't know if I would recover."

Without her eyesight, she could not progress with Two cormorants fishing from The Rock and the painting was left incomplete.

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After months of treatment and thanks to an "exceptionally good surgeon" at Moorfields Eye Hospital, Gina finally recovered her sight in March this year.

She said: "I certainly value my eyesight hugely now. We take things for granted, but then suddenly it goes and then things aren't right at all.

"I don't take it for granted after what happened. It still amazes me and I make the best of everything."

Now able to finish the painting, Gina travelled back to Monaco at Easter to have another look at the scene.

The retired psychotherapist was not expecting the piece to win any competitions: "I couldn't believe I had won because I didn't think it was my best work.

"The only thing about it is it is different. People don't normally paint a picture looking down so it is a different perspective."

Gina has been painting for nearly a decade: "I absolutely love painting, you can get completely lost when you are painting, the colours and the picture we create is magic in lots of ways."

She received a "rather beautiful" wooden trophy for winning, which she can keep for a year.

The Challenge Trophy was judged by Rory Browne on originality and freshness. Other commended work in that category included Mitzie Green's Cliff Edge, Jan Munro's Cullen Seatown Roofs, Arthur George Tompkins's Red Nude, Linda Cavill's 3D Seedpods, and Clare Cammack's St Albans Cathedral.

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