Andrew Marr hails painting for stroke recovery

The TV presenter has made a makeshift studio in the south of France where he is on holiday. Picture: Neil Hanna
The TV presenter has made a makeshift studio in the south of France where he is on holiday. Picture: Neil Hanna
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BROADCASTER Andrew Marr has said his love of painting and sketching helped his recovery after he suffered a stroke.

The former BBC political editor said his artwork had played a key role in his physical therapy and helped him cope during his illness.

It’s very hard work and it’s very physical

Andrew Marr

Marr spent two months in hospital and underwent extensive physiotherapy to help him walk after the stroke in January 2013.

The presenter is on holiday in the south of France, a popular location for the Scottish Colourists in the 1920s and 1930s.

Marr said he was “very interested” in the work of the group, Samuel Peploe, George Leslie Hunter, JD Fergusson and Francis Cadell. Much of Marr’s most recent work appears to be influenced by the group, featuring brightly coloured shapes and patterns in an abstract style.

He told The Scotsman he had opened up a makeshift studio during his time in the south of France where he spends up to four hours every other day.

The Glasgow-born journalist , 56, who began his career at The Scotsman, said what had started as a hobby has become a kind of art therapy and that the act of standing while he paints helps with his posture and strengthens his muscles.

“I’m very interested in the Scottish Colourists but it’s the first time we’ve been to this part of the south of France,” he said.

“I’ve set up a studio here and I’ll paint there at least every other day or so while I’m away.

“I tend to spend about three or four hours doing it, but because I stand upright and use both hands. It’s very physical work that helps with the body.

“It’s very hard work and it’s very physical. It’s good for morale, but it’s physically helpful to me as well.”

Marr previously said that he intends to “do less, better”, and would not repeat the 18-hour days he worked prior to his stroke.

Speaking months after suffering a stroke he said he would dedicate more time to his Sunday talk show but was likely to cut back on work commitments elsewhere.

Speaking from the south of France yesterday, he said he still tried to sketch or paint most days in between his political interviews and television presenting work.

However, he said painting had become a form of physical exercise he was determined to continue to help improve his health.

He said: “Even when I’m working I sketch most days. It’s being vertical for three hours or so at a time that really makes a difference though.

“I’ve always been interested in painting and sketching, but now it’s got more of a beneficial effect it’s something I now look to do more than I did before.”

In a separate interview with the Radio Times magazine, Marr said he had received advice from David Hockney, considered one of Britain’s greatest living artist.

He said: “If you ask him about specific painting problems he is incredibly generous.

“I remember asking him how he does that particularly cold white sky that is so characteristic of the British winter. And he explained exactly how to do it, the oil paints to buy, the brushes. He definitely improved my ­painting.”

He also spoke of Winston Churchill’s love of painting. Marr said he does not have the kind of depression Churchill suffered, adding: “Recovery from something like a stroke is always difficult, and you get ups and downs. I certainly find that if I’m feeling down or gloomy or harried, if I paint for a few hours I feel better. I find it very difficult, but the nature of the difficulty is in itself a kind of therapy.”