Cartooning Around With Brian Desmond

How a hospital stay revived his love for drawing


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An unfortunate illness had a silver lining when it revived a passion for drawing for a Chiswick resident.

Brian Desmond suffered a stroke last year and following a fall, spent time rehabilitating at the Lady Skinner ward in Charing Cross Hospital. A visit by art rehabilitator Emelie Salford has inspired Brian to take up pen and paper and start drawing again.

Brian pictured with Emelie

Brian, who was brought up in Fulham, says he was always doodling even as a child, and though he had many different jobs, from hospital porter to working in the travel industry, to working in a pharmacy, he was pursuaded to send some of his cartoons to The Sun, and other weekly newspapers. He never studied art at school and had in fact specialised in Latin but found he had a natural talent for drawing.

"I'm told I have an odd sense of humour and when I create cartoons I secretly laugh," he says.

His cartoons are non-political and are on the whimsical side, with themes taken from bar stories, the idea that 'there's no such thing as a happy marriage' or scenes of everyday life.

'Neither twin liked to be mistaken for the other '

Though he did not draw political cartoons Brian was an admirer of Punch and says you could often sum up the political mood of the day by looking at one of the magazine's cartoons.

Emelie comments; "Everyone has a story and Brian had a wealth of stories - I saw in his drawings a great joy for life, after all, cartoons are about observing life and humour."

An exhibition of Brian's cartoons is now on display in the Day Room of the Lady Skinner ward.

'Here's one from his apathy period'

"The Art Rehabilitation Programme supported by the Friends of Charing Cross Hospital, offers patients the opportunity to communicate through art during weekly sessions. Art serves as a helpful tool, stimulus and outlet, reducing stress and encouraging a positive outlook on life, it can also aid dexterity and coordination. I often think of art as a colourful medication, giving hope and confidence", adds Emelie

Brian's drawing has encouraged others on the ward to try it for themselves and many have been surprised at just how much enjoyment it gives them.

When Brian returned home from hospital to Acton Green (where he has lived for 47 years) he started to work on more sketches. Returning to his long love of drawing has given him a new lease of life.

If anyone in Chiswick would like to put up an exhibition of Brian's work please contact us at


A drawing from Brian's sketchbook entitled ' Snake Dance' from 1969


August 1, 2014

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