Jack Guy, CNN
Johnson Wahl, née Fawcett, died “suddenly and peacefully” on Monday at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London, according to an announcement in The Times newspaper Tuesday.
In addition to the UK Prime Minister, Johnson Wahl had three more children — Rachel, Leo and Joseph — reads the announcement, with the names of 13 grandchildren listed.
“I am hugely saddened by Charlotte’s sudden death,” said Nell Butler, who is responsible for cataloging Johnson Wahl’s artwork and curated her 2015 retrospective, in a statement to CNN Tuesday.
“Johnson Wahl was a huge talent who continued to draw and paint almost until the end,” the statement continued. “She was driven to put things on paper. It was a language for her, a way of communicating the emotions and colour inside her head.”
Butler hailed Johnson Wahl’s “indomitable spirit” and said she “never complained, despite the burden of Parkinson’s and the indignities of old age.”
Born in 1942, Johnson Wahl studied English Literature at Oxford University before becoming a painter, according to her website.
She had sell-out shows at Maudsley Hospital, in south London, in 1974, in Brussels in the late 1970s and at the Gavin Graham gallery in London in 2004, reads the website. She also had a successful retrospective at London’s Mall Galleries in 2015.
“Powerful, personal and deeply moving, the exhibition presents a collection of stunning paintings that tell the story of Johnson Wahl’s turbulent life,” said Mall Galleries. “They chart marriage, motherhood and mental breakdown — followed by early onset Parkinson’s disease.”
Parkinson’s disease is a “progressive disorder of the nervous system,” according to the Mayo Clinic, that primarily affects a patient’s movement. It often starts with a small tremor in the hand or muscle stiffness and gets worse over time. Patients often have trouble walking and talking. Symptoms include slowness of movement, a loss of balance and slurred speech.
Despite her illness, she still painted every day, according to her website.
The Prime Minister’s office declined to comment on personal matters when contacted by CNN.
Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, tweeted his condolences Tuesday.
“I’m very sorry to learn of the Prime Minister’s loss,” wrote Starmer. “My condolences to him and his family.”
Caroline Rassell, chief executive officer at the charity Parkinson’s UK, said Johnson Wahl’s passing was a sad day for the Parkinson’s community.
“As well as being a valued member of our Kensington and Chelsea Support Group, Charlotte was also an active campaigner,” said Rassell in a statement to CNN. “She happily and generously used her voice and influence to back our campaigns, whilst also raising awareness of the condition by speaking about her experience.”
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