A Palliative Care Arts into Health project...

Launch of the artworks and the book 'Being Here'

 

I have been part of a very successful arts into health project working with palliative care patients. Last week saw the culmination of 6 months' work for the St Giles Arts into Health Project. 6 pieces were installed into the palliative care hospice in Whittington, Staffordshire and the book "Being Here" was launched. The 110 page hardback book was published to co-inside with Dying Matters Week 2014 and was the result of creative input from the creative team, patients and staff at the hospice. The book is essentially a collection of poems, illustrations and photographs but so much more than that. The creative team ( Glen Buglass and Rachel Parker (Walsall Creative Development Team), David Calcutt -poet, Peter Tinkler - artist/illustrator, Ming de Nasty - documentary photographer and myself) carried out workshops at the St Giles Day Hospice on a weekly basis developing a collaborative and innovative arts into health project.

Copies of this hardback book are available for £10 each. Please contact me or St Giles if you would like a copy. Hopefully there will also soon be an option to buy online.

 copy of the book 'Being Here'

copy of the book 'Being Here'

 

Above: Copies of the hardback book "Being Here" and the poet David Calcutt reading some of the poems on the launch day

 

A meaningful project celebrating memories

 

Led by a team of two arts into health workers, a poet, two visual artists and a documentary photographer, the creative team decided upon “ Unique People Unique Identities” as an initial title for the project. Although the plan was to make artwork for the interior environment of the hospice and a book, it was from the outset designed to be a collaborative project in which the journey (creative process) would be as significant as the destination (the book and the final artworks on the wall).

 

Black and White portraits by Ming de Nasty

 

An integrated, collaborative arts project

 

Weekly creative sessions were intended to improve people's feeling of wellbeing and by using creative and artistic ways of working, to unlock memories and spark meaningful conversations with people. The creative sessions began as a series of writing and reminiscence sessions, the aim of which was to encourage those who both worked in and attended the Hospice to share their life experiences, the people and places and things that mean something to them, those moments in time past that remain part of a vivid and ever-living present; their fears, their sorrows, their joys. Poetry was the creative medium chosen to embrace and capture these sessions since it has a way of focussing attention on the small details of memory and experience and of bringing them up close, into the here and now, making them new and clear and fresh. The visual artists were able to enrich this creative experience with aesthetic interpretations that both reflected and informed further creative dialogue.

 

Promoting Psychological Wellbeing

 

Both sorrows and joys were shared and discussed during the sessions and there were moments of laughter as well as moments of reflective sadness and contemplation, but the overall ambience was a positive and jubilant one. Reflecting upon the creative sessions, one patient said Whilst we were working together in the sessions, I forgot I had cancer.” This simple sentence, spoken from the heart, gave the whole project a profound sense of meaning for all involved. It was a testament to the importance of psychological wellbeing, in the face of biological challenges.

 

Below are some of the images made for this project. For more images from this project click here

 

 copies of the book 'Being Here'

copies of the book 'Being Here'

 People at the St Giles hospice getting involved in the workshops

People at the St Giles hospice getting involved in the workshops

  Hopwas Woods  installed at St Giles

Hopwas Woods installed at St Giles

  Cannock Chase Horizon  installed

Cannock Chase Horizon installed