Cecilia Gordon on creating art: “I don’t seek inspiration; it comes to me”


Author: Sophie ParrottPublished: 13 April 2023

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Cecilia Gordon playing the piano.

Music teacher and artist Cecilia Gordon discusses how Parkinson’s has impacted her relationship with art – and shares how others can incorporate the craft into their lives

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Oslo, Norway – my mother was Norwegian, and my father was English. I spent most of my school days in England, apart from one year in Norway when I was growing up. I think the time spent over there must have contributed to my appreciation of art because it opened my eyes to the magic of colour. I loved the multi-coloured houses that were set against the white snow, the blue skies and fjords, and the dark green fir trees.

I eventually enrolled as a mature student at the Anglia Ruskin University, England. I had been all set to do an English degree but switched to music. One evening, while strolling through a French village, through an open window I suddenly heard one of Beethoven’s string quartets being played beautifully and I knew that music was to be my destiny.

Since my school days, my career has been in music, with the piano being my main instrument of choice. I’ve been a piano teacher throughout my career and have taught a range of people, inside and outside of school settings. My passion for all types of art was initially stimulated by my home environment. Over the years, it has grown to include poetry as well.

Please tell us about your experience of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

I was diagnosed back in 2003. My doctor suspected that I had Parkinson’s and sent me to a specialist who later confirmed it. The specialist was encouraging – his positive attitude did a lot to help me come to terms with the condition.

Following his lead, I became rather blasé and played down the seriousness of the condition.

A painting shared by Cecilia Gordon.

“I also like painting pictures. I don’t seek inspiration; it comes to me,” Cecilia explains.

You are an artist. What forms of art do you like to work in?

I’ve loved music since I had my first percussion lesson in kindergarten. This has grown over the years, and I have made it my life’s work. Nowadays, I play the piano, the bassoon, and I’ve had a go at the double bass, the viola, the cello and the oboe – as is often the case with music teachers. Music can elevate your mood and your mind. One can lose oneself in it.

I also like painting pictures. I don’t seek inspiration; it comes to me. Once I start a picture, I don’t know how it is going to turn out. It seems to have a will of its own, almost as if someone else is painting it. I don’t seem to be in control – it controls me.

How has Parkinson’s impacted your relationship with art?

As I am now less mobile, I have developed greater powers of concentration and observation. This means that I can become fully absorbed in what I am painting – something that has proven to be very therapeutic. I am also able to observe people with a new level of intensity, which has led to a deeper level of understanding and, consequently, richer relationships. Painting people can help you learn about how they are feeling.

Since I have developed Parkinson’s, I have become increasingly absorbed by shape and colour. A dominant colour always informs the composition. Shapes interest me. I often make shapes and patterns in my mind out of seemingly ordinary, disconnected things around me. This has made me more imaginative and given me great satisfaction in creativity.

Cecilia Gordon.

Cecilia says “creating art helps me to relax, which makes me happy.”

How can people with Parkinson’s incorporate art and music into their lives?

I attend local art groups where I get a lot of encouragement from the people around me. I also attend musical concerts. Creating art helps me to relax, which makes me happy and benefits my personal wellbeing. I play music, which satisfies the soul. I listen to poetry being read aloud because it is rhythmically musical.

My advice to others would be to go out and explore new avenues. There is so much to see and learn. Parkinson’s is tough, but I have been touched by the incredible kindness of people who have helped me along my way.

Read more:

“Without Parkinson’s, I’m not sure my pasta would have become art”

“The aim of the haiku poet is to capture the essence of a moment”

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