Can making art help you sleep better and make you feel more content whilst in hospital?

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Late 2021, artist Hailey Beavis began a series of art making workshops at the Western General Hospital. The workshops are supported by Senior Charge Nurse Carol Paterson and form part of programme in the Meaningful Activity Centre.

The small, intimate group, allowed Hailey to work with individuals and tune in to how they were doing, how they like to work, and how best to work with them.

The first session got off to a bright start, with sunshine pouring through the windows, creating a warm and welcoming feeling, more akin to a social club than a hospital meeting room. Using music played through a small speaker, with songs requested by the patients, Hailey created a relaxed atmosphere which got the group interacting.

Art materials including coloured card, old memorabilia and postcard were laid on a table, with percussive instruments for those who found it harder to engage with the art activities. Patients’ confidence grew throughout the session with painting, mark making, chatting, singing, dancing and drumming.

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As sessions continue into 2022 they have retained the same organic feeling and versatility of materials, with sensory still life sessions including scented foliage such as rosemary, and activities using high contrast materials – white on black – for participants with visual impairments.

Staff have commented that patients have been looking forward to the workshops, talking about them beforehand and this can be seen in the sessions themselves with participants bringing along extra materials, progressing their work, breaking out of their routines, and opening up – cracking jokes and reminiscing – and apparently sleeping better.

Something Fishy in Eden Ward’s Vitrine

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You may remember our Vitrine Project at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, which brought together artists, staff and patients across different wards in a series of workshops to create artworks which form a diorama in the vitrines (two-sided glass spaces) that separate the communal living and dining areas in each ward.

For the first time since March 2020 the team have brought their creative projects back on to the wards and are really delighted to be back working with everyone again. Anne, Laura Lees and OT Samantha Philips have been working with Eden Ward – the female care for the elderly ward – to create individual fish out of textiles, which will all come together to create a large collective shoal in the vitrine. As you’ll see it’s a work in progress at the moment, but so far things are coming along swimmingly…

Eden Ward’s Vitrine Full of Fish

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In last year’s post ‘Something Fishy in Eden Ward’s Vitrine’ we wrote about the beautiful textile fish which were being created in artist Laura Lee’s workshops on Eden Ward – the female care for the elderly ward at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Patients worked jointly to make individual fish by using the technique called applique, whereby different bits of fabric were place on a fabric fish template. Participants were encouraged to mark make instead of using traditional embroidery stitches and the results have been staggering. A rich variety of iridescent fabrics and threads created the detailed surface textures and patterns of scales in hand embroidery.

The fish are now finished and have been installed in the Eden Ward vitrine to produce an eye-catching underwater diorama, adding interest to the ward, and showcasing the wonderful work of the patients.

Artlink partner in delivering the Tonic Arts Participatory Programme on behalf of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

Common Thread Contribute to Stitches for Survival

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Stitching in solidarity, Fiona, Maggie, Joan and Giuseppe at The Glasshouses joined Stitches For Survival to produce a panel for their 1.5 mile long scarf which is being used to campaign locally and nationally during COP26.

Members knitted, crocheted, stitched and crafted 1.5 miles of climate messages for the negotiators to urge them to take bold and binding action together. Mass-craftivism to put the Earth centre-stage at COP26. The length of the scarf represents the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement.

Some of the banners were completed too late for the main event at Glasgow Green during the start of November so The Glasshouses are creating our own display in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. To help continue this creative campaigning get in touch with Anne if you’d like to make a panel. Anne Elliot

Artlink partner in delivering the Tonic Arts Participatory Programme on behalf of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

Weaving With Common Thread

Textile artist Laura Lees ‘In Stitches’ online sewing project proved so popular during lockdown that we couldn’t wait to explore more ways of making with her when we returned to The Glasshouses at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Now know as ‘Common Thread’ workshops started up in July taking wannabe makers and skilled sewers on a new in-person creative journey.

When restrictions permitted the workshops were also taken into the Rehab Art Room located in the Andrew Duncan Clinic to work alongside the Occupational Therapy Team with individual patients attending the group from the Rehabilitation wards.

Beginning with embroidery thread and felt, individual birds were produced which could be hung together into a mobile, that now takes pride of place in the Rehab Art Room.

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One of the big hits so far has been experimenting with weaving plastic. Working with recycled materials, a huge tarpaulin donated artist Sharon Averbuch (check out the photos of the tarps at their original home in Australia below!) Laura deconstructed the tarps, experimenting and creating wonderful large-scale, colourful woven pieces. No needles required, no fraying fabric, just many hands excited by the freedom of this way of working and instant dramatic effect.

The plastic weavings have truly transformed the fence surrounding The Glasshouses and are a sign of more exciting things to come through the Laura Lees workshops and the Common Thread Project at the Royal Edinburgh.

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Artlink partner in delivering the Tonic Arts Participatory Programme on behalf of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

INSIDE | out:

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Workshops, exhibition, sited works in the courtyard and outside the ADC art room.

Over the last period, artist Nick Evans, Occupational Therapist Jennifer Dawson and patients worked together in the Andrew Duncan Clinic art room.

The last year has been strange for everyone, so when we could, we worked directly with people in the space. When restrictions didn’t allow for that, Jenny kept things going with the group, while Nick supported the group remotely. We loved your determination to keep going!

As with most of Artlink workshops it’s the process that’s important.  The simple act of getting alongside people and making things together is such a lovely thing to do. A calm, supportive and non clinical atmosphere helps everyone relax, and from there the creativity usually flows.

We think the work they produced is incredible and if you missed the exhibition you can still see the 4 plaques in the courtyard just beside the canteen, and the other artwork just outside the ADC art room.

We all know that when opportunities arise to work together, that it makes the process a more complete and valuable experience for everyone involved so we would like to thank our colleagues Jennifer Dawson, Becky Brazil and Hans Clausen for their contributions and help within the project.

Artlink partner in delivering the Tonic Arts Participatory Programme on behalf of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

In Stitches: Grace – Cat

And to keep the bad puns going we think this cat by Grace is just PURRRRFECT!

In Stitches: Anne Elliot – Forest

Anne is currently working on this forest piece and was inspired by a David Hockney painting. We think that Anne can definitely see the woods for the trees!

Anne says, ‘’The Hockney landscape paintings are vast in size and on viewing them I felt drenched in colour. They have had a lasting impact on me. It has been a challenge to break away from the original Hockney – I found myself being slavishly true to the original. I really enjoyed being unleashed with colour after monochrome Meg. Working with embroidery threads for the first time made my stitches much smaller and tighter than the wool used in creating Meg. Working in tandem with others through the ‘In Stitches’ group kept me going with this project which so easily could have joined all the other unfinished garments from decades ago.’’

In Stitches: Anne Elliot – Meg

Anne has lovingly captured her Mum’s dog Meg in this beautiful piece. As Franklin Jones said ‘Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job’!

Anne says ‘’Thanks to lockdown and Laura Lees this was my first venture in sewing for 3 decades. I was surprised and encouraged by this perfect tonic to lockdown. Homemade size 12 dresses have been replaced by a pictorial interpretation of my favourite family dog Meg, using freestyle stitching. I was trying to draw with thread and fabric, enjoying the textures and working with limited resources at home. For a change I can be the one to say, I have not done this since school!’’

In Stitches: Yvonne – Ode to Frida

Who would have thought birds and skulls go together? We do now! We love Yvonne’s creative use of stitches and colour. And where did she get those headphones?!

Yvonne says, “This is an ode to Frida (Kahlo). My inspiration was Mexico and the Day of the Dead. I love Frida Kahlo and the bright colours … appliqué is a craft I haven’t done before, so I find the group is teaching me new skills and I love seeing it come together.”