FEATURED: Muscle Memory Makes Magnificent Motifs

It is always brilliant working with the energetic activity coordinators Kim and Carey at the integrated Stroke Unit and Medicine of the Elderly wards at the Royal Infirmary. It is a mutual learning experience and it strengthens the impact of our work. Working collaboratively, we have made impactful arts and music happen and are excited to start working with newly-appointed activity coordinator Murray Fotheringham at Ward 120.

Recently artist Laura Aldrige worked with the activity coordinators and patients on the Stroke and Dementia wards at the RIE and she picks up the story from here: “I wanted to work in a way that was accessible for all patients; that is taking something that could work in multiple ways and have tasks within it that were flexible to allow as much participation as possible. I decided to work with block printing; the activity allowed for much collaboration and conversation between staff, myself and patients. There was a freedom to it that allowed for testing out more abstract ideas alongside more realistic or recognisable motifs.

Interestingly the printing process seemed to bring about conversations about what patients ‘used to do for a living.’ There was one woman in particular that had been a printer and she just had all this muscle memory and was able to just print non-stop, making the most beautiful prints composed of other people’s printing blocks; how she lined up the different printing blocks and chose complimentary colours was fantastic to see. It’s crucial that people come away feeling positive and that the activity has enhanced their feelings about themselves rather than remind them what they can’t do.”

We look forward to building on this work with Kim, Carey and Murray and creating permanent displays at the Stroke and Medicine for the Elderly wards.

FEATURED: A New Perspective

All the wards in the New Royal Edinburgh Building have had their first vitrine workshop with artist Tom Krasny. The project is supported by the Green Space Art Space PSP and the idea is to use the glass spaces in the wall that divide the communal dining and living spaces to create dioramas. Each ward will have a slightly different theme and the pieces made during the workshops will help populate and tell the story of the scene.

It is an energising process as Tom explains: “From my experience running workshops at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, art activities allow participants to shift focus from stressful circumstances, concentrate on something external and make creative decisions which are at the same time intuitive and subjective. In workshops that take place in hospitals, making the work is often a collaborative effort – a dialogue between an artist or staff member and a patient.

Engaging in creative activities together is fun and informal. It gives participants a sense of agency in a place which often makes them feel controlled. What’s more, it lets them personalise objects in an environment that can feel very impersonal. Art activities also allow space for valuable interpersonal exchange.

I am frequently surprised by and learn from people I work with, their ingenuity, sense of humour and creative choices. The success of a collaborative artwork lies in the approach and atmosphere in which it is made, and I can personally say working with Artlink has made me, as well as many other people, very happy.”

People get so much out of involvement in the arts. Working together in workshops encourages a solidarity between patients that often follows them from hospital to community. The safe space that the workshops represents allows people to be themselves, to use their imagination and follow through on ideas away from clinical environment. This is invaluable.