India Wilkinson loved to ‘chill out’ while drawing, taking photos or painting her schoolfriend’s nails. In 2016, an operation to remove a tumour from her brain meant she lost the fine motor skills needed to continue expressing her feelings with an artists’ brush.

For two years, India looked for new ways to communicate her thoughts, she experimented with gardening and learned photoshop, but a printing press dating back to 1875 proved to be the most unlikely outlet for India’s creative flare. Working alongside family friend Rebecca Jones, India began designing colour schemes, researching ideas and composing messages that she would then turn into prints and posters at Tilley Printing in Ledbury.

In the September before she died, India suffered a brain bleed and was admitted to St Michael’s Hospice. For the first 48 hours, India’s family feared the worst, but thankfully, under Hospice care, her health improved. St Michael’s staff even made it possible for India to return to Tilley Printing so she could continue being creative with ink. Around the same time, India began making a film called ‘Inside my head’. The film provided India with a chance to leave a lasting legacy in six simple but emotionally powerful messages. Each message featured in the film also inspired India to make a limited edition of hand-made postcards.

With footage of India operating a Heidleberg press, the film was first screened at India’s memorial service. ‘Inside My Head’ went on to be seen and heard by tens of thousands of people across the world. The enlarged postcards previewed at India’s memorial service also left a lasting impression on family friend Liz Wilde.

Two years after the memorial service Liz arranged for three pieces of India’s art to be entered into the Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Show 2020. One of the works chosen by Liz and India’s mum Zinnia was one of the postcards printed at Tilley Printing and featured an image of Dr Who’s TARDIS, and the quote, ‘We are all stories in the end – just make it a good one.’

With over twice as many votes as the runner up, the inspirational artwork won the prestigious Young Artists Summer Show People’s Vote competition.

Zinnia said it’s testament to the impact India’s artwork has had on its audience. ‘I’m so proud of her for winning this award and in the way that her courage in the face of death is still having a positive impact on people’s lives. India was a huge Harry Potter fan, and as JK Rowling comments after Dumbledore dies, while somebody is still in people’s thoughts, they remain very much alive.’

Zinnia asked the Royal Academy of Arts to donate the prize money to St Michael’s Hospice. 

‘I wanted to give something back to St Michael’s because they gave India so many experiences during her stay. I would never have imagined the opportunities she had to fill her life with such a richness of experiences.

‘I would like to thank everyone who supports St Michael’s, for making a real difference.

Everyone at St Michael’s would like to thank India’s friends and family for continuing to support their Hospice. 

To view and bid on this year’s postcards click here

You can watch India’s film “Inside My Head’ here