Project Ability recently started a series of workshops in Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Tutor Meredith Crone tells us more about what patients have been working on.
“On the 1st May Project Ability started a block of visual art workshops for patients of the Adult Wards of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. The workshops have thus far proved to be very popular with an average of 9 patients accessing the 2 hour sessions from the 3 different wards ; – McNair, Henderson and Rutherford. As well as up to 11 patients there have also been nursing staff, an occupational therapist and volunteers. Despite being very busy there has been a brilliant atmosphere with tremendous peer support from staff and patients alike, everyone present being invited to join in the creative process and explore the materials at hand.
The sessions have been open to patients at various stages of their recovery, from people under constant observation to others who are awaiting their imminent discharge from hospital. The average stay in these wards is around 4 weeks, so from the point of view of delivering these art workshops you can never be entirely sure who might be present the following week. Needless to say of course, if someone isn’t present due to release from hospital that is the best outcome possible. This taken into account and the fact that patients might expect visitors during the session means that a fairly flexible approach to the artwork is best. I have been preparing and planning to follow up ideas that have developed over the weeks, but also trying to allow a certain immediacy to occur whereby someone can express a feeling or an idea in that moment we have during the session.
An initial theme was working with silhouette forms to make stencils. Using diffusers the stencils were placed on coloured grounds and sprayed with ink. Over the course of these first five weeks the group have moved on to exploring drawing and painting with chalks, inks and watercolours on paper, with one patient requesting a canvas. The format and media have been a response to the express interests of the participants involved and the nature of the sessions themselves.
A really interesting body of artwork is being produced from people with different sorts of experience in the field of visual art , from art school trained to people who haven’t engaged in art activity since their school days.”