Southend residents showcase their artistic talents with a public exhibition
Older people in their 80s and 90s have been getting up close to canvas developing their creative flare alongside visual artists.
Over the past six months at the communal lounges at Nazareth House, run by the Sisters of Nazareth, and St Martin’s Care Home, run by Darby and Joan, in Southend have transformed into hives of creativity.
Supported by staff and creative ageing charity Equal Arts, residents have been getting to grips with watercolours, new brush techniques and creative writing.
Recognising their achievements, an exhibition of their work will open at the Beecroft Art Gallery from October 18.
It’s an opportunity for 85-year-old Dennis, Gina, 94, and the rest of the group to share their artwork with their community for the first time.
June Armstrong, activities coordinator at Nazareth House run by Sisters of Nazareth, said: “Residents get a lot out of the sessions with Sarah from Equal Arts, they are engaged and there is always a lot of laughter. “Seeing the pieces they’ve been working on go on display for all to see will give them a real sense of pride in what they’ve been doing.”
Lesley Salter, Executive Cllr for Health and Adult Social Care at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, added: “This is a fantastic and innovative project that has made a real difference to some local lives. I am delighted that the work is going to go on display and look forward to seeing the exhibition.”
Working with Equal Arts, staff and residents at the care settings in Southend take part in weekly HenPower sessions. The innovative project links hen-keeping and creativity to reduce depression and loneliness and improve people’s wellbeing.
The exhibition of their work from the HenPower sessions, which runs until November 5, showcases the creative journey of residents supported by care staff and artists.
Equal Arts’ HenPower Associate for Southend Sarah Bracey said: “Some residents who seem distant can light up with the hens close by. "Sessions often have a tactile, sensory element and can be as much about talking, laughing and sharing thoughts as creating the artwork.
“The confidence of residents has improved during the sessions, while care staff have been amazed by residents’ achievements and appreciate the creative ideas artists bring.
“Seeing their work displayed to the public really validates for residents what they’ve been doing and champions the notion of themselves as artists.”
Awarded Lottery funding of £1m in 2013 the Gateshead-based HenPower project is now in more than 30 care settings across the country.
The exhibition is now open to the public 10am until 5pm at the gallery in Victoria Avenue until November 5.
For more information about Equal Arts and its HenPower project in care settings email us at [email protected]
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