Art Therapy for Chronic Pain – Interview with Jeane Trend-Hill

This week on MSW Interviews: Jeane Trend-Hill

Today I’d like to introduce you to an artist with a very different style of artwork that really resonates with patients suffering from Crohns and Colitis.  Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Jeane Trend-Hill.

Jeane suffers from severe ulcerative colitis and osteoporosis.

In this interview, Jeane shows us how she uses art to cope with chronic illness and chronic pain. I hope you enjoy her interview. Please do leave a comment or a word of support for Jeane if you can.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Jeane. I am so glad you reached out to me on Twitter for my call out for chronic illness bloggers. Let’s get on with our interview!

Jeane Trend-Hill Cemetery Historian

MSW: Can you tell us a little about yourself? When did you first become interested in art?

JTH: I’m Jeane Trend-Hill from London. In 2014, I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis and osteoporosis and currently takes 23 pills a day.

I am Ambassador for the Crohns and Colitis Team Network which helps to support people with inflammatory bowel disease. Every 30 minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with Crohns or Colitis. At present, there is no cure.

I have been living with IBD for the best part of five years. (It took 2 years to get a definite diagnosis.) I had chronic diarrhea, pain, bleeding, and my weight dropped to 70lbs. Prior to this I had been happy, healthy and enjoying my work as an actress.

But now I was in agony, unable to leave the house without a wheelchair and my marriage broke up as my husband of 10 years no longer wanted me and became physically abusive towards me. My life changed forever. For months, I didn’t want to carry on, but after hospital stays and extensive tests, I was stabilized. I regained my strength, no longer needed a wheelchair and moved out of the marital home. I basically had to start my life over.

MSW: Could you tell us a little about the projects you’re working on at the moment?

JTH: Most of my current projects are giving magazine interviews / photography about Victorian cemeteries which I love. I also love birds, in particular ravens and crows.

Jeane Trend-Hill - Cemetery Historian

MSW: Do you ever create art that describes your pain or your emotional or physical state of being? Would you mind sharing some images with us?

JTH: ‘A Gut Feeling’ is my first assemblage piece. I enjoyed art at school but photography has always been my medium.

It’s not always easy to explain my illness, it takes a long time and people don’t always get it.

By being able to look at A Gut Feeling they can draw their own conclusions within seconds and ultimately see more the longer they choose to look at it.

Jeane Trend-Hill - Assemblage Piece for Crohns and Colitis

MSW: How do you think art could be used for treatment in chronic illness? What benefits could art have to a patient/ Do you think art could help health practitioners understand their patients better?

JTH: Creating art takes my mind off my pain and helps other people to understand what it’s like to live with an inflammatory bowel disease.

  • The nest represents my bed, comfort from the pain and chronic fatigue, the pills and drips allow me to thrive.My intestines in the nest are inflamed and feel knotted.
  • The discarded rings alluding to the break-up of my marriage, my husband no longer wanting me.
  • A torn business card, my career on hold.
  • A raven feather shows my love of birds.

MSW: What benefits could art have to a patient/ Do you think art could help health practitioners understand their patients better?

JTH: Many people have told me they think the piece is powerful.

Never in a million years when I created it, did I assume it would be labelled as such.

Initially it was just representing how having an inflammatory bowel disease felt, but when I decided to add the wedding rings, it became much more personal.

Not only was I revealing my illness but also the abuse I suffered. I felt honored to have it on display at various places around the country, helping to get my message out there.

MSW: What kind of art supplies do you need on hand all the time?

JTH: I never leave home without my camera, but sometimes I like to sketch a little or make a mood board when I feel like something is coming to mind that I could maybe create.

Jeane Trend-Hill Cemetery Historian

MSW: How have your experiences chronic illness affected you on a personal level?

JTH: It’s been a challenge, I still have flare ups, but if I waited for a day when I felt well enough, I wouldn’t do anything.

MSW: What is your favorite art medium? Which colors do you like to work with the most?

JTH: Photography. I don’t heavily edit my photos, I prefer to show the world what I see.

MSW: What kind of tips would you offer to readers who are interested in starting art as a therapy treatment to chronic illness?

JTH: Pour your pain into something that represents you. It can help enormously.

MSW: Do you have a favorite piece of artwork that you are exceptionally proud of?

JTH: A Gut Feeling.

It took me around six weeks to create from coming up with the initial idea to getting all the materials together and then assembling them. I made a few changes, added and omitted things. Several days later I decided on the wedding rings, otherwise I felt that I would be leaving out a big part of my story and who I am today.

MSW: What advice would you give to aspiring new artists who are looking for something new to do to help them cope with chronic illness?

JTH: Get a feeling for what medium(s) you like to work with. It’s so much easier to work with something you love. It might take a few attempts but so what, that’s part of the process and it can often be a healing process.

A Gut Feeling on Youtube

My Cemetery Photography Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeaneheadstonehunter

Thank you so much for joining us here today, Jeane. It has been a real pleasure to get to know you and your artwork. I look forward to seeing more of your work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *