Operations and icons ... the life of a Hallglen artist

Hallglen artist Jake Smith
Hallglen artist Jake Smith

If you think having 69 aneurysms might dampen the spirits a little, Jake Smith is here to prove you wrong.

The young Hallglen man has brushed off a series of problems to become a talented and inspiring artist.

Jake is something of a medical mystery – and miracle – with his condition baffling the world’s top surgeons.

He suffers from multiple aneurysms – bulges in the walls of blood vessels – all over his body and has braved too many operations to remember – with the scars to prove it.

Jake was diagnosed with nine aneurysms when he was five years old, with the first spotted just before it ruptured by an eagle-eyed consultant at Yorkhill.

In a pioneering procedure, he became the first child in Britain to get a coil inserted to shore up a blood vessel and has since had operations on the brain, kidneys and aortic valves.

Despite facing an uncertain future, the fearless 21-year-old simply shrugs off his problems and is embracing his new passion of art, for which he has a definite flair.

“I never really talk about it because I see it as a sign of weakness,” said Jake.

‘‘Doctors have also told me that my case is almost unique and the most extreme they have ever came across.

“I’ve lost count of the number of operations I’ve had and I look like Rambo with the amount of scars I’ve got.”

Turning to his new-found interest, he added: “I’ve always been into drawing, but the first time I painted anything was just after Michael Jackson died and my mum asked me to do one of him for the house.

“It’s been a bit overwhelming since. Right now it’s a hobby but I’m hoping it will evolve like I have as an artist.”

Jake started Xtraction Art with best friend George Fyfe (18) earlier this year, painting iconic and cult film characters, and musicians, including Marlon Brando, Eminem. Scarface and Bob Marley.

They also have plenty of canvases of characters such as Christian Bale and The Joker from ‘Batman’, which Jake admits to having a more than a slight obsession with.

George, who has been friends with Jake since their days at Hallglen Primary School, said: “He doesn’t act like anything is wrong and never talks or moans about it.

“The opinions of those who think he has a weakness don’t matter. Not a lot of people our age have anything like Xtraction Art going on.

‘‘We’ve had a couple of exhibitions so far and have plenty of material for more so it’s quite an exciting time for us.”

The duo’s artwork has taken over the walls of Jake’s mum Margaret’s small flat in Hallglen, which they have turned into a temporary art studio.

Margaret has been by Jake’s side through all the operations and check-ups, including the last one in London four years ago for aneurysms in his groin area.

She said: “It’s been horrific at times, especially when the surgeons point out all the places they need to cut him to operate.

‘‘He spent a long time in Yorkhill Hospital when he was younger and has been in and out of hospitals since, but he never ever complains – I’m so proud of him.

“I’m really glad he has found something he loves doing. It helps him and I think he’s found his passion in life.”