New Year Reflections

DATE POSTED: 7th of January 2015

The coming of the New Year brings us naturally to reflect on the ‘status quo’ of Art in Healthcare and to peek forward to what’s in store for 2015.

Firstly, we say farewell to 2014, the year of the Art Works! exhibition in Out of the Blue, the year of the Healing Power of Art exhibition at the Atticsalt Gallery and the year in which we helped the Edinburgh Art Fair celebrate their tenth anniversary with a bursting programme of artists’ demonstrations and children’s workshops. All this was on top of our regular activities, such as delivering our artwork rental services to healthcare venues around the country and providing our art workshops to care environments within Edinburgh and the surrounding area.

Art Works! exhibition, March 2014

After a jovial farewell party for our now ex-Director Trevor Jones at the end of 2014, at which we wished him well on his artistic career that lies in wait, we have now welcomed into the fold Margaret O’Connor who brings with her a wealth of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to set us up smoothly for the year ahead. We also said a sad goodbye to our Collection Manager Victoria Irvine at the end of 2014 as she left to work at McTear’s Auctioneers in Glasgow to be nearer her family.

Meanwhile, we continue to receive the regular support and assistance of Irma and Magdalena, our interns from the University of Edinburgh, and from our volunteer Enita, who helps us in the office two days per week. Beyond this we have a network bubbling with volunteers, artists, supporters and partners who guide us along the way and are led confidently by our dedicated Board of Trustees and fantastic Chair Hilary Mounfield.

While we transition into the heart of 2015 with a new leader, we are taking time to reflect on what we do well, why we do it and what else we want to do. Each of these lists is long! Art in Healthcare embraces a wide range of health-promoting art activities and, due to a wealth of experience behind us, we are able both to maintain and develop these activities going forward. There will always be more we want to do, but of course we need to be practical and focus on our key priorities at any one time.

Workshop at Abbeyhill sheltered housing

Looking ahead to 2015, the future really is bright and burgeoning with creativity. We’re now planning our annual outreach exhibition for April - a new collaboration with the Lothian Parkinson’s Service that will demonstrate what people can create artistically in spite of any ill health. (Watch this space for dates and a location!) Our outreach programme of art workshops continues with a couple of exciting new workshop series worthy of note:

1) A trial series of art workshops for Alzheimer Scotland in which we will collaborate with the Scottish Poetry Library to explore the use of art and poetry together
2) A new series of art workshops for the National Spinal Unit in the Southern General Hospital , Glasgow, which will form part of the patients’ occupational therapy treatment

Our artwork rental service continues in full flow, with old contracts being renewed and new ones opening up. We also continue to manage the art collections of NHS Lothian and NHS Fife.

Island Chaffinches by Kittie Jones from AiH Collection

So please wish us well with our endeavours and continue to follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter. Get in touch if you know of any healthcare settings that might need art, and I’ll leave you with an excellent quote by John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, in a recent paper:

“Art and culture are a part of every human’s makeup and potential, assets that should be explored and developed – not commodities that can be separated from the essence of the person and exploited. They should be regarded as essential to the functions of life in the same way as food and water, and like health and wellbeing, they should not be seen as a cost but as an investment in a thriving society and economy.”

Extract from Create: A Journal of Perspectives on the Value of Art and Culture, Arts Council England, November 2014

Artwork by participant in art workshop at St Crispin's special school with artist Leo du Feu

Blog written by Amelia Calvert, Outreach Manager