Marissa and Michael’s son Cormac was born with a unilateral cleft and palate in November 2022. Their 7-year-old son Coen decided to fundraise for CLAPA by hosting an art exhibition and silent auction.
“I love my little brother,” said Coen. “I was so excited when I knew I was going to be a big brother.”
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I found out about his cleft, but I loved him more when he came. I really enjoy playing with him and making him laugh, like when we play balloons together or when I shout ‘Boo!’ and he jumps!”
The exhibition will be a silent auction (Sunday, 3 September 2023, 9.30 – 11 am) where you can bid on a canvas or purchase a print or postcard. There is a website where anyone can place a bid or buy items, which is particularly useful to Coen’s friends and family back in his native Australia. All proceeds go to CLAPA.
“Doing an exhibition is really exciting. We aim to raise over £1,000 for CLAPA. What excites me most is raising money to help families and babies born with a cleft,” explained Coen. “Babies like Cormac go through so much. I’d like to help any way I can so that CLAPA can help families like ours.” Without CLAPA, so many families would be without feeding bottles, support groups, and advice.
Cormac has had his first surgery and is due for his palate repair in September. Coen has done so well to understand and process Cormac’s diagnosis. “I don’t remember what he looked like before his first operation, but I do get worried about his surgeries. I don’t like to think of him being in pain or having the ‘go-to-sleep medicine.’ It’s not nice, but I know he’ll be ok in the end.”
Coen lives in a seaside town and has created a series of abstract versions of the sunset. “One day, I wanted to draw a picture of the beach, but it looked like a cool sunset, so I did another then I just kept drawing. Then I decided to do them as paintings, and now I’m doing an exhibition!” Coen’s abstract compositions lend from an interest in graphic styles with sharp lines and bold, colourful shapes.
Coen believes the sun is for everyone and always makes you smile and smiling means happiness. He’s riffing off CLAPA, raising awareness of clefts with things like Every Smile Tells a Story. This exhibition aims to raise awareness of clefts in Coen’s local community.
Hosting the exhibit is West Kirby Bookshop, which is at the heart of the local community. “The bookshop will open early, especially for our exhibition. It’s a great place to read a book, buy great books, and have a good chat with the owners, Jordan and Dan,” said Coen.
“I hope people will consider making a donation, or buying some art. You have to bid on canvases by writing down your bid on a piece of paper, and later you find out if you’re the canvas winner! You can also buy prints signed by me as well as postcards.”
The changes in Coen’s life have been substantial, and he’s handled them well. This exhibition benefits his confidence and creates a lovely connection with Cormac. It also gives Coen and the attendees an incredible life lesson: supporting charities is invaluable, especially in modern times.
For more information, check out the website here.