Sometimes people who live with long-term conditions can feel a little bit isolated and alone, often due to the impact it has on them physically or mentally. The opportunity to get out in the community and do something positive or creative is not always there but thanks to a brilliant new initiative established by the Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) – those dealing with difficult long-term conditions have been given the chance to become artists.
THAT, in partnership with Perth Museum and Art Gallery and funded by the Gannochy Trust and NHS Tayside, launched the Reflections on Collections group back in August which gave a group of people with a wide range of health conditions from MS to Parkinson’s the chance to learn techniques and skills from a professional artist which would culminate in a collaborative piece going on display inside the museum itself.
What seemed to many in the group like an impossible task, each individual quickly picked up different skills from painting and sketching to printing, with lead artist Frances Law – whose work features in Perth Museum and Art Gallery – passing on her top tips to her pupils. The collaborative piece is a dress with different samples of the groups art used in the design. They drew, painted and printed using different objects in the museum as their inspiration, hence the name ‘Reflections on Collections’.
Karine Neill, THAT’s Development Officer, has been delighted with the feedback from the participants and hopes that people will come along and see the work which will be on display until 21st January 2018.
“The participants got to try a wide variety of basic techniques from drawing and painting to printing and each individual can take the different skills away with them and even start a new hobby. It was nice to see them all grow in confidence every week and also just how much they loved being in the museum – some of them hadn’t been for decades!
“The group had a range of different conditions including MS, Parkinson’s and dementia, which are obviously difficult to deal with on a daily basis. The aim was to give everyone the opportunity to come along and learn new skills, chat about what matters to them and basically get to know the museum and what it has to offer.
“Most of the participants came in saying, ‘We can’t draw’, with very little confidence and the idea behind the programme is that we help build that and give them the chance to create something they’re proud of.” Having something on display that I can show to friends and family makes me really chuffed.
Everyone gathered at the museum last Wednesday to officially open the Reflections on Collections display with the group bringing along friends and family to show off their creative talents.
Pam Milner – who has been one of our Big Personality's which you can read here – was one of those who decided to get involved and was quite rightly delighted with the end product as it was unveiled for the first time.
“I actually felt quite proud to be honest! If you asked any of us at the beginning we’d probably all say we’re not artists by any stretch of the imagination but having something on display that I can show to friends and family makes me really chuffed.
“I had a great time over the 8 weeks and got to meet some great people. We had a good laugh and learned some new things. It’s great that we were able to do the classes at Perth Museum too. It’s such an interesting building and it’s a shame that people don’t come more often because it’s got so much on display that’s really fascinating.
“It’s become so up to date and to see our groups work on display for anyone to come and see is a nice feeling. I wasn’t sure how it was going to look when I heard it was being displayed on a dress but it looks fantastic and I’m so pleased and thankful to have been involved in this project.
“If anyone has a long-term illness and gets the chance to come along and do something like this then I’d say to just go for it – it’s better for you to get out the house and get involved in something than it is to sit at home and feel worse. You’ll have a great time and just being out there helps you to find out about other cool things you can do.
“For example, we were in the museum looking at some other displays and there were people handing out leaflets for a pewter class. That’s something I was really interested in and I’ll be coming back next month to do that class too.”
The lead artist who was passing on the tricks of the trade was Frances Law – a Scottish artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the world. Having worked with Karine and THAT before, she jumped at the opportunity to be involved in helping with the Reflections on Collections project.
Just like the group, Frances was delighted with the outcome of the display and she was full of praise for Perth Museum and Art Gallery and their community exhibition officer, Barbara Hamilton.
“I was gobsmacked with how the dress looked once it was done. Annette, who was one of our volunteer artists, does a bit of dress-making and she thought that it might be a good idea for the display.
“It’s been such a worthwhile project and people seem to have been able to get a lot out of it judging by the feedback they’ve given. It was lovely working with the group and one of the best things for me personally was just seeing everybody enjoy the museum and the different displays on show.”
The Reflections on Collections display is open to the public at Perth Museum and Art Gallery until 21st January 2018 and it looks great. Well done to everyone involved in this fantastic project and for producing such a creative and unique piece of art!
For more information about the work that the Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust do in the area, visit their Facebook page or contact Karine Neil on 01382 835509.
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