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Blog: Blog2

Art to lift the spirits

At the start of September I was invited to mount a display of work in the two main corridors on Monkscroft Care Centre in Cheltenham, part of the Order of St Johns Care Trust. Fourteen different Living from Art members were very happy to bring along a wonderfully varied range of work, bringing life and colour to the white walls.

All these artists firmly believe, as I do, that art can be a restorative thing for many different people, bringing peace and calm, colour and energy to the walls. I’ve found Monkscroft Care Centre to be a very positive place with great people working there, but even so, we hoped that the art would add something positive for staff, visitors and residents.

One of the artists, Beverley Perry, shared her own experience of how a painting helped her in difficult times.

‘Years ago my Dad was in a nursing home and sometimes it was hard to cope, but to be able to just stand and look at a lovely piece of artwork, just for a moment, helped. For the relatives to be able to take the patients to see something different and to fill the time and finally for the hardworking caring staff to have a lovely environment to work in is really important to me and I’m delighted to share my Cotswold landscapes at Monkscroft .’

One day when I was hanging work at Monkscroft I watched a visitor bring his loved one in her wheelchair to look at the work. He spent about half an hour describing each painting, the memories and places it brought to mind. It give them both a link with the outside world and something they could share and I’m sure that was valuable to them.

I’m looking forward to hearing more about the response from residents when Sarah Davis, the activities co-ordinator, is able to offer the ‘Arts Tours’ she is planning – for her to spend time with residents, individually and in very small groups.

I’ve also overheard many conversations between staff member talking about the paintings, what they see when they look at them. They are a great conversation starter as well as a source of private calm.

If anyone is looking for more examples of the value of art in medical and care settings, this work by Paintings in Hospitals has many more examples and quotes

Organising Living from Art’s involvement at Monkscroft has been an enjoyable experience, thanks to the positive. ‘can do’ attitude of both the staff and the Living from Art members I work with; but there is much to develop further

We need more evidence of the impact of art to lift the spirits, in any setting, but specifically in health and social care. The team at Monkscroft are encouraging this, but it is difficult to get visitors to take the time to record a comment or for staff to do this during or after a long shift.

As well as looking at pictures, taking part in art activities are also widely acknowledged as very important and it has been lovely to see residents work displayed alongside the work of professional artists – and this has also been a matter of pride for residents. At the Birthday BBQ I was invited to attend, I had a great conversation with one resident who showed me her work and told me how seeing our work on the walls had encouraged her to keep making art.

Wanting to have a positive impact on residents, staff and visitors, giving them energy and lifting their spirits is the prime motivator for all the artists who have contributed so far, but showing their work to a wider range of people, particularly those who hadn’t previously visited exhibitions or considered owning a piece of art by a local artist is also important.

All our artists need to earn the money they need to continue to make the work they love. We understand that deciding to buy a piece of work is a big decision for most people, particularly when you have other things on your mind, but we do hope that some people may consider making a purchase, for themselves or their loved ones particularly when they have felt its value to them over a period of time. Even buying a card, made by a local artists whose work you have seen, can make a real difference. We are grateful to the Monkscroft team for making this possible, and we do hope more people will be doing this as our presence at Monkscroft continues for a few months to come.

I am delighted that Sarah Davis, activity coordinator at Monkscroft, has agreed to be one of my guest speakers at the ‘Art for Business’ event at Parabola Arts Centre on Thursday 18 October , 7-9. She and I will be sharing more about how our collaboration to share art work with staff, residents and visitors was planned and how it is developing. Other speakers will be sharing how they have brought art into their workplaces and its impact.

Any business interested in hearing about their experiences, meeting some of our artists and seeing their work in the beautiful setting of the Parabola Art Centre would be most welcome. Please book your place by emailing or ringing me on 07747 032912

Anna Poulton


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