Barbara French

I left school aged 15 without passing any exams. This was my parents’ wish, as they were poor, as well as the fact that my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I worked as a secretary until I became ill with the same diagnosis. Whilst unemployed I started to paint for the first time in my life, not realising that I understood about colour. Then 2½ years later I had a major breakdown, schizophrenia, which was chronic, both positive and negative. Now 26 years on, my impressionistic style has ceased and I feel I am back to expressing myself in my original realistic fine art way. Art did nothing for me for 25 years but people and art did keep me alive, so I retained self-confidence and belief that one day I would paint again with talent. After many phases of schizophrenia I am enjoying life once more, I am nearly 60 years old and life is just starting!