MYRI PROSERPI has always been a keen amateur painter. But last year, after she almost died from a severe
MYRI PROSERPI has always been a keen amateur painter. But last year, after she almost died from a severe bout of food poisoning while on holiday in Thailand, she realised that she had to follow her dreams and throw everything into her art.
The 47-year-old from Goring is now staging an exhibition at Henley Studios on Duke Street, but as she recounts her horrific tale, it’s clear that she counts herself extremely lucky to be alive.
She was on holiday with her husband Christopher in a five-star resort in the idyllic town of Krabi in southern Thailand last November when things went horribly wrong.
“We had something to eat and within an hour I knew I had a problem,” she said.
“I became very lethargic, and I knew it wasn’t good. Then I collapsed, and I didn’t wake up again for six days.
“My husband saved me. He managed to get me to the local hospital in Krabi.
“They put me in intensive care but a doctor told my husband that if I was to survive I needed to be transferred to a private hospital in Phuket, which was 200 miles away. He managed to get me transferred by ambulance.
“The hospital was brilliant — it’s where the victims of the tsunami were treated,” she said.
“When I woke up I had had three seizures, and had four fractures in my back. I came home in a wheelchair and went straight to the Royal Berkshire Hospital.”
Despite being warned that she may never walk again, she was determined to make a full recovery, and with the aid of physiotherapy and a positive attitude she managed to pull through.
She said: “I just thought, let me get over this. I’m going to rest and do everything the doctors tell me to. It was horrific, but I’m now walking again.
“I don’t know how I’m here, but I’m here.”
After a consultation at the Hospital For Tropical Diseases in London’s King’s Cross it was agreed that the severe food poisoning was probably caused by eating mushrooms.
She describes the whole experience as “traumatic” but “life-changing”.
“Now that I’m back to normal I’m following my passion and my dreams,” she said.
“Life is too short, and you never ever know. I’m a different person — more relaxed, calmer. I don’t get upset over silly things. I’m on a really lovely road and my art has become more passionate, more expressive.”
Mrs Proserpi was born in London and worked in marketing, helping her brother — a Harley Street doctor — with his work. She moved to Henley 14 years ago with her husband and two children — Dimitri, now 22, and Alexandria, 21 — and then four years ago they moved to Goring.
“To be honest, London has become very fast-paced,” she said. “I am used to that — I still spend a lot of time there — but it’s not the same place it was 15 years ago. As you get older you prefer the quieter life.”
She has always painted, taking short courses at Central St Martins School Of Art And Design in London, as well as a number of evening courses at The Henley College.
Since her experience last November, however, she has thrown everything into her art. Working in acrylics and pastels, she paints mainly portraits — but with a twist.
“I paint quite an extreme type of painting,” she said. “Life drawing or ballet dancers — and I paint my chickens! — but there will be a bit of abstract work around it, a mixture of different things. A lot of people who have bought my work have said they are different — and fun.”
Meanwhile, as well as throwing herself into her art, she is helping to promote the work of her daughter, who is about to graduate from the London College of Fashion and whose work has excited the interest of a number of prominent designers.
The exhibition, featuring 25 paintings of different sizes, runs from Thursday, June 6 for three weeks.