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Artists create extensive garden mural for dementia patients at Royal Alexandra Hospital

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Eleven artists have created an extensive outdoor mural depicting Scottish scenery and garden images at Ward 37 of the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH). 

The artists, who all have lived mental health experiences, created the murals over a five week period working every day – Scottish summer permitting - as part of their recovery and creative development. 

A garden party was held for 50 patients, relatives, staff and the artists to celebrate the completion of the artwork in a garden area used by dementia patients. 

One of the patients, supported by his daughter and grand-daughter, has the honour of cutting the ribbon to open the garden. 

Jeanette Allan, lead occupational therapist, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (NHSGGC), said: “The project has been such a huge success that the artists, working with NHSGGC’s NetWork Vocational Rehabilitation Service, have landed a commission to create works of art for four Renfrewshire health centres.” 

The group has secured funding from the NHSGGC endowments fund for a series of commissions to install artwork into Linwood, Johnstone and Bishopton Health Centres as well as the Memory Clinic at the RAH. They have begun research into the first of these projects in Linwood which will reference changes in local history. 

Sarah Grant, community arts co-ordinator at the NetWork Service, said: “The 11 clients of NetWork, who all have lived mental health experience, had all shown an interest in art and were given the opportunity to form a group that would take on public art commissions. 

“Their brief was to create an outdoor mural for Ward 37 at the RAH which would appeal to patients with dementia. It was felt the patients would benefit from bright colours and images which stimulated conversation and memory. 

“All the artists were involved in each stage of the process, from visiting the ward and garden to ordering paint and materials. The artists met weekly to plan their designs on the chosen garden and Scottish landscape theme following feedback from the ward. 

“A number of the artists have spoken about how therapeutic and meaningful they had found the project and how it had increased their own confidence creatively. As a result, the art group is forming a strong identity and new friendships.”                                               

Feedback from the artists has been positive. 

Arlene said: “I gained lots of positives, enjoyed working as part of a team, and gained feelings of pride knowing that the mural was for a lovely cause.” 

Anne said: “I enjoyed the collaboration and the sharing of ideas – everyone had valuable input and was taken seriously. I loved painting outside; it energised me and I felt useful.” 

Laurie said: “It was fun. I enjoyed drawing on the large, bright white wall and then had great fun colouring in. It was very therapeutic and the banter was good too.” 

Ruth said: “I really enjoyed the large scale of it and painting on the walls as well as meeting new people. It was great seeing the mural develop as it was transformed from grey walls to colourful pictures.” 

Ruth, has been commissioned independently to engrave a poem on a wooden plaque, which has led to interest in how she could develop her work commercially.

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