In spotlight after life lived in the shade

Artist Monica Williams at work in her Sutton Bridge studio. SG270115-153TW
Artist Monica Williams at work in her Sutton Bridge studio. SG270115-153TW
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An inspirational woman in her eighties is in the limelight as an artist after literally living all of her life in the shade.

Monica Williams has a rare illness called porphyria and suffers indescribable pain if her skin is accidentally exposed to sunlight.

She said: “The pain ... you could almost commit suicide it’s so bad. It’s awful. You just can’t describe it.

“I have even slept all night with my feet in the fridge.

“In school I used to have to stand against a wall in the shade. I didn’t have friends as I couldn’t go out with them.”

Monica (81) keeps outings to a minimum as she must wear a big hat, lined coat and lined leather gloves before venturing outside.

She said: “It’s horrible when it’s really, really hot.”

Monica moved to Sutton Bridge when she was 70 and friends from St Matthew’s Church suggested she should give the village art group a try.

At first she stared at a blank sheet of paper but soon discovered a latent talent for drawing.

Monica honed her skills with lessons in pastels from Peter Dalziel at Lincolnshire Gallery, Spalding Common, and taught herself to paint in oils.

She’s exhibited with Sutton Bridge Art Group at St Matthew’s – winning best in show for her picture of a beautiful galloping horse called Goliath – and three years ago opened The Art Studio at her home in Bridge Road.

Monica has more than a dozen pictures exhibited at The Lincolnshire Gallery and around 120 at her home-based studio.

The artist has had only a few visitors to her studio but would love to welcome more.

“I don’t expect people to buy, I would just like them to come in and have a look,” said Monica. “Even if they just come in for a cup of tea.”

Because of her illness, Monica paints indoors and mostly relies on photographs given by friends.

Her favourite subjects are horses and skies.

“I think horses are very beautiful,” she said. “I have never really been up close to them.”

Her passion for painting will see Monica trying a new medium, Brusho, a sort of powdered ink as she continues to build on her skills.

She said: “I paint every day, in the morning mostly because I get up early. It’s any subject except flowers.”