Arts for Health Newsletter - Spring 2023
Here is our Spring update from Arts for Health with information on all our current programmes, successes, special events and general news…..
Arts for Health have been working with the team leading on the Transformation Partnership within the Trust to bring additional creative activities and events to our acute wards at St George’s Hospital. We are really excited about this extra boost of funding as it has enabled us to deliver additional workshops and live music concerts plus the offer of extra creative resources to inpatients, providing access to interesting, engaging and supportive creativity on all our acute wards at St George’s hospital site.
With this funding, we have also been able to recruit a number of young, emerging artists who have not worked within mental health previously. This is exciting as it broadens our resource of capable and professional artists and musicians who are being mentored by our more experienced artists.
The new projects include:
Maggie Hollinshead and Amy Louise-Davies working on Brocton ward – using textiles, mixed media and other materials and techniques, Maggie and Amy are bringing interesting making activities to the ward, this is additional to the creative delivery by artist Debbie Todd who has been working with the Trust for many years and consistently brings a range of creative engagement to our adults on Brocton and Chebsey wards – for which we are very grateful.
Mark Uttley and Maddy Blatherwick-Plumb on Baswich and Bromley wards – Mark has worked on the older adult wards for many years and brought a huge range of creative ideas to the inpatients there. Joined by Maddy who is a young emerging artist – they have introduced new ideas and techniques and Maddy has enjoyed the opportunity to become more familiar with this setting.
Tess Radcliffe on Chebsey ward. Tess is a professional artist from the region who is very much centred on drawing skills, photography, film and other media. Tess is bringing a range of ideas to the ward and encouraging the development of drawing skills. Over the next few weeks the participants will be exploring a range of themes from drawing landscapes at night, the Spring sunrise, birds and flora through tracing, stencilling, collage and using photos as inspiration. Tess is joined by a volunteer artist who is himself a very skilled draughtsman.
Mark Uttley on Norbury ward. Artist Mark Uttley is working with inpatients on Norbury ward to create bird designs.These designs will be recreated/ fabricated in vinyl/ Perspex and will be attached to a delicate frame that will then hang from the atrium. The atrium has beautiful images of clouds all around the walls so these birds will look fantastic when completed and installed. These sessions are all funded by Transformation Partnership in association with Arts for Health.
Playing Card project
Artist Mark Uttley, along with one of our newer artists Maddy Blatherwick-Plumb, have been visiting all the acute wards at St George’s and Redwoods with a box of varied art materials and ideas – to encourage inpatients and staff to create artworks that can be used as the images for a set of playing cards. The images would be used to eventually be printed up to form a number of complete sets of cards. These sets of playing cards would then be distributed to all the wards for use by patients and staff.
Milford Ward enhancement project
Two artists are working on Milford ward this year with inpatients and staff to devise some themes, colours and designs which will be used in a variety of ways, techniques and processes to create artworks that will enhance the ward spaces. The ward has been refurbished and painted but desperately needs some inclusion of arts and creativity.
Mark Uttley will in the first instance take on the lead artist role and is mentoring artist and illustrator Kate Slater who is new to working within mental health settings, but is quickly taking the lead with many aspects of this project.
As a team they will deliver workshops to inpatients in a variety of techniques and materials, leading to some finished artworks to be exhibited or enhance the ward spaces. We hope to move into the garden during the summer months to have an impact there also.
A host of musicians continue to visit our acute and specialist services wards on a regular basis and we continue with our Live Music in the Bistro series at Redwoods – some of the concerts are supported financially by Music in Hospitals in Care – for which we are very grateful – their two musicians Dan Walsh and Bob Gessey are regular monthly visitors at both St George’s and Redwoods….along with our talented regular musicians who support our programme brilliantly.
Designs in Mind
Designs in Mind in Oswestry are a not-for-profit organisation comprising professional artists and service user members. They develop arts commissions for local organisations and community settings and now have a retail shop beneath their workshop spaces in Oswestry. We are working with their lead artist Bridie Dunbabbin plus a number of their members to support a plan to introduce some new artwork to the Redwoods centre, to update and build on existing historical artwork and improve the general overall feel of the spaces, the wards and communal areas.
Through a course of workshops, Designs in Mind will present a theme for the work plus a detailed project proposal. The project is very much about getting inpatients and staff involved in the process of designing new artworks and murals. Workshops take place during April and May 2023 on the adult acute wards at Redwoods, supported by our regular artist Jean Mills.
Arts for Health has been able to create a new part-time post for our Shropshire sites, Arts for Health Project Assistant – and we were able to recruit last month. Amy Smith, who currently works at The Hive in Shrewsbury, will be taking up the role later this month. Amy is an artist in her own right, and has done a number of different jobs in her time – we are so looking forward to her starting and supporting the vital work we do….welcome Am
Other ward engagement projects
Creative arts at Redwoods – sessions continue with artist Jean Mills on a regular basis on our adult wards and with Jamila Thomas on older adult bringing a variety of creativity to our inpatients….
Holly Ward Fence Project is now complete and Charlotte Tisdale, the artist has been busy adding some new aspects to the mural – to support inpatient ideas and suggestions. She has added the St Chads building, the river Severn and the Line Trees that border the river path in Shrewsbury…..the ward manager has added some large planters to the garden which are now bedecked with beautiful flowers, improving the garden immensely.
Jessica, Helen, Owen, Amy & Diana - the Arts for Health team - hope the Spring brings sunshine and all good things…..
Redwoods Celebration Event
Live Music programme at St George’s and Redwoods
We have a really exciting range of music taking place across our mental health inpatient facilities. The music programme is well and truly embedded and includes a mix of instruments, vocals, duo’s, different styles, genres and locations.
Music in Hospitals in Care
This programme will continue into 2023 with our regular musicians: Dan Walsh and Bob Gessey and we hope to be able to offer additional musicians during the year.
Our latest concert with Dan Walsh was a storm with over 60 people attending from wards and community. A lively and fun event for all….
“better than ever!” “a fantastic player” “Dan is phenomenal!” “what a wonderful performance” “you can tell that Dan cares that his audience is having a good time”
St Chad’s celebration event
At St George’s on Wednesday 7th December, Arts for Health organised a number of musicians plus refreshments for inpatients there…with Steve Tams on keyboard, the Alton Handbells and Nick Corder on ukulele! A joy for the wards and staff included.
Colour & Crescendo
We have also installed the original artworks created through this project into frames which are on exhibition in St Chad’s waiting area to brighten up the space and illustrate the beautiful artworks to those who may not have seen them.
World Mental Health Day event at Shrewsbury Abbey
Creative activities on the wards…
Clee unit at Redwoods is about to embark on an artists’ commission to celebrate 10 years of their unit. The project will involve inpatients, staff and two local artists (Liz Turner and Keith Ashford), who created a wonderful piece of work in 2012 when the building first opened…we are looking forward to seeing what emerges from this process…..
Milford Ward – artists Mark Uttley and Kate Slater started work on this ward in early December – engaging with inpatients to design some uplifting murals and colourful imagery for the walls, windows and garden area. It has recently had a refurbishment and we hope the involvement with the arts will bring some soul and much needed interest to the ward spaces.
Baswich and Bromley wards – fabulous engagement on a Thursday morning for our older adults at St George’s with talented musician Sarah Eastwood, playing music and leading much loved singing in the Spirituality room...
Wellbeing Art Group
Redwoods Exhibition space
We are providing some festive materials for our wards to use over Christmas along with some beautiful cut-out town scenes created by Mark Uttley – inpatients can use the materials to decorate the town scenes to place around the wards! And whilst doing this, people can listen to and enjoy our Winter Playlist we have compiled with songs and stories for the seasonal period!
Thank you to all our AHP and ward staff who support our Arts for Health delivery – we are so grateful for your time and skills which benefit our inpatients throughout the year…cheers to you all!!!
Jessica, Helen, Owen and Diana, the arts for health team wish you all a very Merry Christmas with lots of festive love and cheer…stay safe and well…….. see you in 2023!
Colour & Crescendo
The video was created by Junction 15 studios in Stoke-on-Trent and we hope it will be a valuable insight into the work that took place……there is definitely food for thought here as regards a follow-up project maybe 2023/24. You can listen to the full recordings of the new compositions by visiting our website at: https://artsforhealth.mpft.nhs.uk/our-work/events
A Choral Forest – Lichfield Cathedral, Saturday October 8th 2022
Colour & Crescendo is also being highlighted at an event at Lichfield Cathedral on Saturday October 8th 2022….2pm-4pm. Our musicians Richard Taylor and Sarah Whittingham will be playing our newly composed music from Colour & Crescendo project in front of a large audience of people being brought together by Derby Air Arts. They have staged this project entitled Staff Voices - A Choral Forest, a combination of powerful music and song from the UHDB’s Wellbeing choir and the Cathedral choirs in a performance that celebrates the strength of the NHS. There will be an exhibition of sculptural trees made by artists E J Lance and Miles Halpin, inspired by the NHS.
Summer Celebration Redwoods!
We are holding a summer event at Redwoods on Friday 19th August at 2pm-5pm….there will be live music, refreshments, cake! arts activities, games and ice cream! It will be an opportunity for Arts for Health to showcase some of our wonderful musicians and artists who have helped us through the last few years and to have some fun and to thank our incredible clinical and general staff across the Trust who have worked so valiantly……please come and enjoy the festival atmosphere!
We are going to be developing the live music gradually back to what it was pre-pandemic where at Redwoods we would have more social, public sessions in the bistro. As a way of moving towards this, our collaboration with Music in Hospitals started in April with musicians Dan Walsh and Bob Gessey.
They are playing at our two mental health facilities at St George’s in Stafford and Redwoods in Shrewsbury on a monthly basis – bringing a huge range of styles, genre and well-known tunes to our people – some fabulous playing and singing….they are being received very well.
- “Wonderful range of thoughtful songs by Bob Gessey”
- “Thank you so much for playing for us – truly amazing!”
- “great guitar and voice, wonderful repertoire and great interaction with the audience. Happy chap!”
- “It was very good to hear songs I haven’t heard for a long time. Such a variety of songs too. I was singing along. You don’t realise there is such talent around”
Redwoods Exhibition space
“I just wanted to say a big thank you for all your help and suggestions in getting the walking group exhibit up and running. It looks fantastic and I have received lots of positive feedback already”
Coming up we have some colourful exhibitions planned by our Wellbeing Art Group plus a local artist and also some poetry from one of our inpatients….!
Owen, our new digital comms worker and Diana our team administrator have both been working hard on the website over the last few months to try to improve this, keep it up to date and interesting! Good progress being made and we hope it will be simpler and more effective for people to journey through.
Mark has also been working with patients on Baswich and Bromley to replace signage. The spirituality and Pastoral room and create new signage Spirituality Centre
Arts for Health is consulting on an enhancement project at Redwoods to bring some colour and inspiration to the garden fences. Starting on Holly ward (older adult) where we hope to explore a nature and landscape theme. Artist/illustrator Charlotte Tisdale visited the ward to discuss with inpatients, their ideas and thoughts on what they would like to see…she will take these ideas and create a design to share with people on the ward to gather their responses before finalising the design.
We are creating a brief for this kind of work as we intend to continue with the fences on the adult wards too, over the next 6 months.
St Chad’s exhibition space, St George’s. We have been working with Estates to refurbish this waiting area where Arts for Health can have mini concerts and gatherings. We are preparing an exhibition of the Colour & Crescendo postcards to be displayed in this area within large frames. We hope to develop this space to be more of a changing exhibition space to show service user artwork along with the results of our project work.
Artist Call Out
A proven track record of delivering workshops and producing participatory artwork
Experience or an interest in delivering work on wards, or in healthcare settings
Experience of delivering workshops online
Experience of working with adults and young people with additional needs and/or adults with mental health difficulties or dementia
A passion for creative wellbeing
We would especially love to hear from people who are underrepresented in the arts sector.