Because seeing is believing

At the Ivey Eye Institute, art created by patients inspires hope.

In her cozy farmhouse, the artistry of Ida Regio is everywhere. In every corner, on every surface, in every room, one can find the exquisite work of this talented Ilderton woman.  From intricate bronze statues, wood carvings and gold creations, to life-like oil paintings and pencil sketches – the magnitude of Regio’s mastery is extraordinary.

Ida Regio with her artwork
(above: Ida Regio with her artwork)

From the scope and beauty of the work, one would think the accomplished artist has been perfecting her craft over a lifetime.  But Regio only discovered her true talent at a young 76 years old, when she would paint through the night using the surface of the ironing board in the laundry room.  As the main caregiver for her ailing husband, she would immerse herself in her creations after he went to bed. “It was like a different world. Time disappeared.”

Last year, a self-taught Regio opened her own gallery. She had just turned 90.

“It comes from inside,” says a passionate Regio of her work. “Each painting is my heart.”

The first time she sold a piece “it almost killed me,” laughs the great grandmother, whose creativity is matched only by her irreverent sense of humour. These days, it’s not as difficult for Regio to part with her paintings - they sell for as much as $9,000. One of her finest pieces can be found in the Ivey Eye Institute of St. Joseph’s Hospital in London. It adorns the waiting room of ophthalmologist Dr. Cindy Hutnik, whom Regio credits with “keeping me going.” An eye patient for about 20 years, Regio is followed closely by Dr. Hutnik for glaucoma and dry eye, an age-related ocular condition. She has also had cataract surgery.

“Ida’s work is so inspirational to other patients,” says Dr. Hutnik, a leading researcher and specialist in glaucoma and cataracts. “It brightens everyone’s day.”

It has also motivated others to donate creations. About 10 works of art – all from Dr. Hutnik’s patients - now hang in the waiting room. At the bottom of one piece, the patient wrote “The first painting with my new eyes. Thank you Dr. Hutnik.”

“Eye patients are afraid they will one day lose the ability to see,” says Dr. Hutnik. “These donated pieces of beautiful art convince them that things are going to be okay. Despite having a potentially blinding disease they can do amazing things.”

Growing up in Slovenia, Regio loved painting and drawing but as the oldest of nine, it wasn’t possible to study art. After emigrating to Canada in 1954, work and family were all consuming. Now with time as well as talent, a prolific Regio has been sharing her gift far and wide. Her three daughters, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren all have beautiful keepsakes. Even more valuable, however, is what these magnificent pieces say about the artist - her steadfast tenacity, irrepressible spirit, and the hope she inspires in others.

View the video of Ida Regio's artwork at the Ivey Eye Institute (click on the thumbnail):
Ida Regio with Dr. Cindy Hutnik at Ivey Eye Institute
(Patient Ida Regio stands beside her artwork in the Ivey Eye Institute alongside Ophthalmologist Dr. Cindy Hutnik)

Back to Stories