The Ward Activities programme is a direct response to the expressed needs and interests of patients and staff.
• Each activity lasts an hour
• We work across different wards in each hospital
• Activities happen at bedsides, in communal areas of the wards and in pubic spaces
• It is a constantly changing programme
The programme works across both performing and visual arts. The programme ranges from music, singing, songwriting, magic, comedy, craft and story telling.
It has been a real pleasure meeting up with staff past and present over the last year or so to hear more about their connection to the Western General. Artlink has been supporting the hospital to ﬁnd ways of marking 150 years of healthcare being provided on the site; from its ﬁrst incarnation as the Craigleith Hospital and Poorhouse to what it is today – a hive of ﬁrst class healthcare on a site that also supports over 80 different plant species.
Our meetings have involved copious amounts of coffee, running a half marathon, enjoying the talents of musical medics of the 1960s and meeting some of the folk who were born – and now work – at the Western. The conversations have given a real insight into the strong bonds that form when working in a hospital, and we have also found some pretty decent runners amongst you! These encounters and more can be found on the WGH150 blog.
Over the last months we have been working in partnership with The Scottish Book Trust and The Reading Agency to bring Reading Friends to care for the elderly wards. Reading Friends is a UK wide scheme that uses books and reading as a way of fostering friendship and creating meaningful moments that have long term effects.
We are one of just two projects in Scotland and the first to be bring this project onto hospital wards. Fifteen new volunteers with varied and interesting backgrounds are ready to deliver this brilliant programme after some first class training from our partners at Volunteer Edinburgh. More training is to come as we continue to recruit but we already have a few of our wonderful volunteers visiting Prospect Bank and St. Johns Hospital. Simon Jay, Artlink’s volunteer coordinator for Reading Friends, has been bringing an exciting energy to the scheme:
“Since our first volunteer meeting mid-January, we’ve had new volunteers join us and we’ve begun to get out onto the wards. The volunteers themselves will be able to share their personal experience at one of our regular volunteer meet ups. Personally I have observed how the act of companionship, through sitting alongside someone and reading, can make a difference in unquantifiable ways. For instance, one patient a volunteer was reading to became much more engaged during an hour together looking at photo-books of Edinburgh. Relatives who visited after a Reading Friend had been to visit mentioned that everyone found it easier to talk and engage with each other. On another occasion, visiting a particularly distressed patient in their room calmed them down immediately and they found the companionship very soothing.”Simon Jay, Reading Friends Volunteer Coordinator
It’s nearly time for the annual staff and patient exhibition! This year it will be taking place in the gallery at the Western General Hospital from 1st March – April 2018.
The exhibition so far has been developed by illustrator Laura Cave Macgowan, in collaboration with staff and patients who responded to an earlier call for ideas. She would like to invite you to explore the theme of ‘escapism’ through art, by considering the use of mark-making, lines and pattern in making a piece of work. Perhaps you could take inspiration from what you do to relax or ground yourself. Whether its gardening, visiting a landscape or reading your favourite book, you might want to focus on a detail, such as the surface of a leaf, tiles on a floor, or something more abstract – be as imaginative as you wish!
If you’d like to take part, please read the guidelines and complete the submissions form, returning it to us by Monday 12th February. All artwork should be framed and handed in to the Artlink office by Monday 19th February.
We’re very much looking forward to seeing all of your unique and creative responses to the theme.
As a society we no longer create social spaces naturally. Within mental health the increasing reality is isolation and the lack of opportunity for people to find meaningful and engaging ways to belong to their immediate communities.
Over the past years Artlink projects at the Glasshouses in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh hospital, Leylines across West Lothian and Curious Routes within Edinburgh have at the heart of their studio practice the motivation to bring people together.
‘We as a group of people meet up, chat, eat, share and listen together. It allows us to creatively explore our realities of isolation, support each other and challenge the lack of meaningful opportunities that people face on a daily basis’
These projects become social spaces, a chance to engage and share in conversation. ‘Everyone recognises themselves in how the ideas emerge and the way we make them happen.’ Ideas develop naturally inspired by something as simple as a favourite tune, a movie that inspires a time and place, a shared memory. Common ground emerges and the inspiration to involve others is the next step.
In West Lothian’s Leylines project, Peter Johnstone brought his passion for up and coming Scottish music talent to his local community of Bathgate. ’I want people to experience music locally that they might otherwise have to travel to city centres to experience.’
Edinburgh’s Curious Routes project has been developing conversations around communal play through music and games. ‘Getting together and sharing is on our own terms, we inform our ideas from personal and lived experiences’
The Glasshouses studio is a collective group of artists who create unique projects and events that encourages participation and celebration, as one member of the collective puts it: ‘As a group we have created a safe and supportive environment to explore our ideas. We bounce ideas off one another, it encourages us to be bolder, more ambitious about how we involve others and have fun in what we create.’
Over the course of this exhibition at the Tent gallery, Glasshouses, Leylines and Curious Routes will be inviting groups and the public to actively take part in workshops or just enjoy the artworks on display.
A portable ping-pong table will be open for anyone to use. No points, no rules just play. Alongside this listen to music, chat about what motivates us and how we begin to create and be in charge of our own spaces.
Over the past year Artlink has been working towards this programme of
exhibitions, workshops and events which explores in some detail different aspects
of older age. We want to share the stories of love, life and family we came across
in our research.
We aren’t looking at this through rose-tinted spectacles; we know about the
problems that exist and the hardship that is experienced. What we want to show is
just how remarkable and resilient people are, how enthusiastic they are to join in,
work together and share their experiences.
Each participating hospital has its own ‘theme’ and all events match the interests of
the amazing people we have met and worked with over the years.
Although the exhibitions and events are aimed at older audiences and for those
who care for older people, we have designed this programme to have an open
appeal. You will be introduced to artists and writers who have an interesting
perspective on older age, as well as to local people and organisations who do
amazing work giving advice, support and providing recreational activities.
To make sure that everyone has the opportunity to join in, we have placed some of
these events are on closed wards and some in public spaces. All events are free.
If you want to take part, check what’s on on your ward, or find out more, get in
touch with us at Artlink.