This weekend we were delighted to have a visit from Ladysbridge Stories participant Davy Jones, who travelled from Aberdeen to share his life-stories and artwork with Project Ability’s artists at Trongate 103. It was a day of enthusiastic, informal discussion and creativity, comparing life within Scotland’s long-stay hospitals, between the 1970’s until their closure in the early 2000’s.
In the morning Davy led us through the history of Ladysbridge and his journey to a life in the community, illustrated by archival photography, whilst Cameron Morgan gave an account of his own early life in the Royal National Hospital, Larbert. Doreen Kay spent 10 years as a patient at Lennox Castle Hospital in Campsie Glen and recounted her memories of those times and in contrast John Cocozza gave an insight into life growing up at home within the community.
What shines through starkly is the similarity of experience between those growing up in institutional care, from the categorisation of patients into low, medium and high grade,
the crowded bed-to-bed dormitories, the lack of privacy and the denial of choice in where you went, what you wore or what you ate.
Since the very first Ladysbridge Stories sessions we’ve been repeatedly drawn back to the historic records of Ladysbridge Hospital, stored within the NHS Grampian Archive in Aberdeen. We’ve explored the format of the folded patients records, using this as inspiration for the folding of the Ladysbridge Memory Map. In the afternoon we revisited the wonderful marbling which lines the heavy, leather-bound patient’s casebooks, to create our own marbled artworks, combining this with imagery collaged from archive photography of the hospitals grounds and austere interiors. The outcomes are stunning, atmospheric landscapes within which the distinctive villas and houses of Ladysbridge swirl.
What an inspiring and moving day. It was great to have Davy as our guest!