East Anglia Art Exhibition, in Aid of Nacoa, 18-24 August.

Nacoa supporter and artist, Ben Wardle, is putting on an art exhibition celebrating the East Anglian landscape, featuring several artists who specialise in a variety of different media. Raising funds for Nacoa, the show will run from Friday 18th to 24th August, between 10-4pm, at Ben’s own Blyford Dairy Studios, Blyford Hall, IP19 9JY. 

In a fitting idyllic setting for the show, the Suffolk gallery space is located on Ben’s livery yard and stables: ‘I don’t have to pay rent for the barn where we are having the exhibition (just clean it out!) so I thought I could donate my ‘gallery fee’ of 15% of any sales to charity.’

Nacoa’s national work helping any child affected by a parent’s drinking is close to Ben’s heart. You can read below his story and the reasons why he is raising funds to help the cause:

‘I came across Nacoa through a friend who also had an alcoholic mother, and as a result it seemed like the perfect candidate to support.’

‘If I can raise a bit of cash for Nacoa and raise some awareness of what the charity does I will be pleased. My childhood and development have been significantly affected by my mothers alcoholism, and the older I get the more I have become aware of just how much.

‘There was no help for me as a child, and I was desperate for some. I looked after my mum until her death in 2013, not because I wanted to (I didn’t like her at all in the end) but because I knew no one else would. I found her body, and for the last few years of her life every time I visited I worried what I may find. Although she became quite frail, my mother never stopped being emotionally abusive and above all a consummate liar. I couldn’t ask for help as a child as she would blame me for any upset, and I felt I couldn’t leave home as my younger sister was vulnerable and also being manipulated emotionally.

‘As an adult I had a constant fight with the health service to try and get some support for mum, but I never really got any. I had her sectioned 3 times and had to call the emergency services more times than I can remember. It was soul destroying, and led to several suicide attempts and failings in my own mental health.

‘I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and as a result now have a good grip on my mental health, but it has taken a long while and as a result I was scared to become a parent myself until recently. Having to become the responsible adult at age 12 when my father left has left its scars and if my exhibition helps another child not to feel how I felt for so long, it will be well worth it.

I reckon you guys at Nacoa are doing sterling work. People like me need to speak out in order to help people like you tell kids that feeling helpless, completely alone and insignificant is really not OK and can be alleviated by just having someone who understands to talk to.’

To hear how the show develops, you can find more information about Ben, the show and his work on his Facebook and Twitter pages.