The story behind the See ME Expo began when I was invited to display my Elephant and ME illustration at an art expo in Belgium in 2019. It was after that when I realised the event organiser, Dascha, was so severely afflicted with ME and bedridden 95% of the time, wasn’t able to attend the expo. She’d coordinated the entire event from her bed using a laptop without being able to enjoy the final result.
That’s when the idea of a virtual art exhibition for ME was born, so people who are homebound or unable to travel can enjoy the expo experience online.
Dascha was a clinical psychologist and behavioural therapist before becoming mostly bedridden due to ME. At the moment she is completely bedridden and lives in a dark room in an assistance care house.
Dascha is a board-member and co-founder of 12ME, a Belgium group for advocacy and awareness for ME. While bed-bound, she organises events and brings patients together. She has a special interest in art as a way of expressing, reaching and advocacy. When Dascha first became ill she painted rock art to help raise funds for research.
After Dascha’s health deteriorated she was no longer able to paint, however she finds comfort in the art of others and has since joined me as a collaborator of our Pinterest board See ME Expo. This is so we can include more artists from Belgium and beyond.
I’m an Australian illustrator and graphic designer by profession and was living my dream illustrating children’s books when I fell ill overnight in 2013 after catching a virus. The following year, I was diagnosed with ME and UCTD (an autoimmune connective tissue disease), which was triggered by the same virus.
I had kept my health problems to myself until I realised keeping quiet about my diagnosis was not only doing myself a disservice, but was also contributing to the invisibility of millions of people with ME. Since then, my goal has been to help make ME visible to the world by utilising my creative skills.
First I illustrated an animation of myself wading through wet cement while tethered to a stubborn elephant and wrote about my own health struggles on my art blog.
A little while later, I designed the ME Advocacy Network Australia (MEANA) logo and started up my own ME awareness blog Illustrator Interrupted. To view more of my ME advocacy work visit: amandafrancey.com
My latest project will be hosting exhibits on this website to help spread awareness and hopefully fundraise for ME advocacy and research. Dascha is still working behind the scenes when her health permits.