November 5, 2019

Dr Shanali Perera


I am a digital artist, educator and former Rheumatologist based in Manchester, UK. I advocate for the use of creativity to cope with facing challenges from long-term conditions.

I developed vasculitis during my specialist training in Rheumatology. I took up Digital art following early retirement. I use an app on my phone to create digital canvases, using colour as a method to capture and portray my illness journey. It is my interpretation as an artist, patient and former rheumatologist on “What pain and lived experience looks like”.

My work is centred around exploring art and the human factor to raise awareness, open dialogue and create agency about facilitating ‘expression of illness’. How visual expressions can be an alternate language, opening new ways of seeing to help clinicians get a deeper understanding of what people go through, the impact illnesses have on a person’s image and identity. Helping to narrow the gap between ‘medical science and the human experience’ and explore our understanding of the ‘human aspect of medical practice’. This way art can play an integral part in patient-clinician interview by bringing sensory dimensions to the conversation.


I have done workshops and talks with patient support groups (Rheumatology, Rare Diseases and Cancer groups) and Medical Humanities students attached to Manchester Medical School in the UK. Similarly, groups of Disability studies students, Occupational therapists, Arts students, Communication and Media students attached to University of Kelaniya; Medical students attached to Colombo and Sri Jayawardenapura Medical Faculties; carers and parents of children with disabilities, while visiting Sri Lanka.


I am affiliated with the Medical School, University of Manchester; Arts, Health & wellbeing Special interest group, Royal Society of Public Health UK; LENs group (Lived Experience Network), Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance UK; Research User Group, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Manchester, UK.