Jessica Taylor-Bearman was born in March 1991, at Maidstone Hospital in England. She grew up in Rochester and Canterbury, Kent, where she attended Rochester Grammar School for Girls.
At the age of 15, she became acutely unwell with an illness called Myalgic Encephalomyletis (M.E). She was hospitalised from 2006-2010, suffering with the most severe form of the condition. This included her being bedridden, unable to move, speak, eat and more. She began to write in her mind, and when finally able to speak again, she began to write through her audio diary ‘Bug’.
In 2009, Jessica began her journey to being able to move, in a rather unique way…through laughter! She realised that through balancing a paintbrush in her hand, laughter caused the paintbrush to move, creating a new form of art that she called a ‘Laugh-O-Gram‘. Her first collection was exhibited in the Canterbury Art Festival 2009. All her pieces have been exhibited since then. In 2010, she founded a charity called Share a Star, whilst still in hospital to help more seriously unwell youngsters. It is now a registered charity that she continues to run. Jessica’s journey has been tempestuous since she left hospital for home, and she has continued to fight for her life. She is currently still bedridden, eleven years after it began. She writes a Facebook blog called The World of One Room and made a YouTube video of the same name that has reached tens of thousands of people in multiple countries. Jessica has also featured in a film called Unrest. The aim which of both of these is to raise awareness.
Jessica’s ambition has always been to be an author.
Painting through Laughter – A Laugh -O- Gram
There was a time when I could not move, eat, speak or do anything really. I lived in a locked in syndrome state, where I heard everything but could do nothing. People were always moaning and were always being negative. I dreamt of finding a way in which I could change that and make art through hope. This came when I realised that laughter still made my immobile body slightly jerk because it is a physical motion. A Laugh -O- Gram is measure of laughter and has gone from creating mere lines, to landscapes too!
Jennifer Brea is about to marry the love of her life when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, Jennifer grabs a camera and films the darkest moments unfolding before her eyes as she is derailed by M.E. (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a mysterious illness some still believe is “all in your head.”
In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jen is moved to connect with others around the globe. Utilizing Skype and social media, she unlocks a forgotten community with intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly.
Unrest world-premiered January in the documentary competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize for editing. It has since screened at SxSW, CPH:DOX, HotDocs, River Run (Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature), the Nashville Film Festival (Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature), among Sheffield Doc/Fest (Illuminate Award). It also has a companion VR piece which premiered at Tribeca and won the Jury Award for best VR at Sheffield/DocFest.
I'm very grateful to play a small part in Jen's amazing film.
Thank you x