By Lina Kurdi
A cyclist is using art to raise awareness of road safety after an accident caused a life-changing head injury.
Multimedia artist Xavier Hilts White, 56, of Vanburgh Park, Blackheath, survived a severe head injury after he was hit by a car while cycling in Peckham Rye in 1985 when he was 18 years old.
Xavier’s art is inspired by cycling and road safety because he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Xavier said that in 1985 people did not take helmet wearing seriously and the dangers of not wearing a helmet were not emphasised in society like it is now.
He was in a 10-day coma in the specialist neurosurgical unit at the Maudsley hospital in what is now Mapother House, at King’s College Hospital in Camberwell.
After waking up, Xavier had to relearn how to walk and talk. He said: “My rehabilitation at the Maudsley, regaining life skills as best I could, was very surreal and the experience and memories have shaped my life, like childhood memories.
“The nursing care I received was personal, professional, and life-affirming.”
Art played a big part in Xavier’s rehabilitation, and before his accident, Xavier intended to study art at university. He now specialises in glass art.
Neurology, thoughts and ideas about how the mind works are the main themes in Xavier’s art.
He said: “I put my fascination with neurology and consciousness down to a movement in physiotherapy when the physiotherapist was asking me to take a step, and I remember thinking ‘how?’
“What messages to send? What should I imagine? The neurotransmission process involved has inspired my art.”
The head injury has left Xavier with some concentration and memory issues, as well as other cognitive problems.
Xavier created a blue plaque to commemorate his time at the specialist neurosurgical unit.
He said: “It’s just to entertain the new staff there and raise awareness of cycling safety.”
Xavier still cycles and themes of sustainability and the built environment are also explored in his art.
For more information about Xavier Hilts White and his art visit http://xavierwhite.weebly.com/
Pictured top: Xavier Hilts White with some of his work