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HomeNewsArtist’s masterpiece thanks to surgeon’s master stroke

Artist’s masterpiece thanks to surgeon’s master stroke

Artist Kim Leutwyler came to appreciate a medium of a different kind when she came to Royal North Shore stricken with carpal tunnel.

It was a crucial time for the emerging painter, who was trying to finalise her submission to the 2019 Archibald Prize.

Her piece, featuring Ghanaian-Chinese, openly queer actor, broadcaster, television producer, writer and DJ Faustina Agolley was "90 per cent done" when the pain became too much.

"When I was painting her hair, her hair is quite detailed, my fingers started going so numb during the day whereas it previously used to bother me at night," Kim said.

"It was permanent tingles throughout the day and shooting pain, which is when I knew I just had to stop."

Kim succumbed to the pain and downed tools for close to three months, but she was determined to finish.

Enter hand, wrist and reconstructive plastic surgeon Dr James Ledgard.

James operated on Kim’s favoured right hand first, giving her the best chance at recovering in time to finish her submission. Her left hand would be revisited at a later date.

Kim recovered well from the surgery and was able to finalise her submission with the help of James’ healing hands.

"It was a huge relief (to submit the painting) but even more of a relief to not have carpal tunnel anymore in my right hand," she said.



It was a huge relief (to submit the painting) but even more of a relief to not have carpal tunnel anymore in my right hand.
Kim Leutwyler, patient and artist

"I feel like you have a special bond with someone, regardless of the Archibald Prize, when someone cuts you open and fixes you.

"I mean ‘you’ve seen the inside of my limbs and you’ve worked your magic to fix it’ – it’s amazing and astounding to me what surgeons and their teams do."

Kim said her whole hospital experience had been a positive one.

"From the moment I checked in to the moment I check out at the hospital, everyone was so lovely, they’ve made me feel so welcome; it’s been an awesome experience."

James said it was great to be able to help Kim with one of his favourite operations.

"Carpal tunnel is one of my favourite operations because almost everybody gets better," he said.

"Usually the nicest thing is hearing they have a proper night’s sleep the night after the operation. That’s what everyone appreciates most, but having someone whose painting is a finalist in the Archibald is pretty special too.

"I admitted to Kim that I haven’t been (to the Archibald) this year though."

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