Stirling artist’s cancer care sketches set to go on hospital exhibition

A Stirling cancer survivor who sketched portraits of the staff who cared for her is to see her work exhibited in the hospital where she was treated.

Art and design teacher Gillian McLaren, 35, produced her collection of 22 sketches of NHS workers who looked after her after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March 2020.

Her illness coincided with the start of the Covid pandemic and marked a difficult time for both herself personally and for stretched NHS staff aiming to keep up their standards of care during an unprecedented period for the NHS.

Gillian was diagnosed aged just 33 and underwent rounds of surgery, chemotherapy and regular tests while the rest of the nation was in lockdown.

The exhibition, entitled ‘Portraits and Tales from a Hospital Bed’, portrays the various staff involved with her journey including cleaners, nurses, doctors, porters and phlebotomists and reflects not only their individual contributions, but that of the NHS more widely.

Each portrait is accompanied by a personal story of the individual in the sketch and the role they played in Gillian’s care.

The exhibition, at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, will be opened to the public on Friday (November 25).

Stirling MSP Evelyn Tweed, who met Gillian during summer recess after the representative spoke about ovarian cancer symptoms in a debate in the Scottish Parliament, is backing artistic Gill’s efforts.

Ms Tweed said: “It was an honour to meet Gillian earlier this year, she is truly an inspiring young woman who is shining a light on ovarian cancer.

“I am really pleased to hear the news that Gillian’s incredible artwork has been taken into Ninewells Hospital as part of their permanent collection.

“Her artwork and the stories behind them have created a snapshot in time of the incredible work of everyone in the NHS and the fundamental importance of our NHS. I hope that Gillian’s artwork continues to be a catalyst for raising awareness of ovarian cancer amongst the public and health professionals.

“The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis, which is why knowing your body and knowing the symptoms is so important. I encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and always seek medical advise if you have concerns.

“I am pleased to hear Gillian’s cancer is in remission and I wish her all the best for the opening of her exhibition on Friday.”

The exhibition will be situated in the Level Seven corridor at the hospital and can also be viewed on Gilly’s Instagram page @gillyartist or on


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