Community helps artist get back to the drawing board

Friends and artists in Cherryville and Lumby are pulling together to help fellow artist Lou Hammond with her medical expenses.

A silent auction and art walk in support of Cherryville artist Lou Hammond takes place in Lumby this weekend and next week.

A silent auction and art walk in support of Cherryville artist Lou Hammond takes place in Lumby this weekend and next week.

Friends and artists in Cherryville and Lumby are pulling together to help one of their own.

On Friday and Saturday, the start of a silent auction, as well as an art walk will be held in aid of Lou Hammond,  an artist who lives with chronic illness.

A resident of Cherryville the past seven years, Hammond is also an art teacher who worked as a reporter/photographer for the Lumby Valley Times newspaper for two-and-a-half years and also helped organize the area’s popular Wondercafé events as well as community ventures such as WOW (Women On Wellness) in Lumby.

However, her illness has prevented her from doing many of the things she loves, said Nina Westaway, a friend and former student of Hammond’s Artistic Connections seniors painting group.

“She’s had a chronic illness for a long time, ever since an infection in her digestive system caused it to shut down and she ended up almost starving to death,” said Westaway.

“She’s on a disability income, and does not have a lot of money to help herself and her living conditions are not that great. Her friends want to help her. She is also well liked and known by many in the community.”

Hammond used to have an active life.

A recreational pilot, she flew a Citabria light airplane and worked as a heavy equipment operator, support worker, industrial courier, and clerk for a control tower in Inuvik. She was also heavily involved in many sports and rode motorcycles.

A graduate of Alberta College of Art in 1994, Hammond has also been heavily involved in the arts.

She supported the arts councils in Calgary and Kamloops and served on the Monashee Arts Council board.

Her paintings have also won several awards.

With the loss of her health, Hammond says she has been living a “half measure life,” resulting in frequent surgeries and emergency trips to hospital.

Her ailments include a compromised immune system, a sluggish lymphatic system and adrenal fatigue, which have left her struggling with pain, exhaustion, fatigue and a life largely determined by the state of her body on any given day.

“My ongoing condition has entailed many trips to the hospital and heavily affected my involvement in life as I tire easily and spend a lot of time in bed. I would really like to feel better, and I would really love to have the energy to do art again,” said Hammond.

So far, nothing has eased Hammond’s symptoms, so she is planning to undertake a full treatment program with Vernon naturopath Dr. Shelby Entner, said Westaway, adding the program will take up to four-to-six months and will require funds.

Hammond herself has donated a number of her artworks for the silent auction and her friends and supporters have donated many items including pottery, fabric, massage, jewelry, books, honey and more.

A reception, art walk, talk and tour of Hammond’s art happens Friday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Monashee Arts Council office (formerly the Family Cafe in Lumby). Another art walk will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The silent auction starts Friday and continues Saturday and all next week at the Monashee Arts Council office. There are also items on display at Sister’s Restaurant and the Lumby Health Food store. Bids close at 5 p.m. in Nov. 10.

A trust account for Hammond has also been set up with the Lumby Scotiabank.