My Work in Arts and Health
Through the use of photography my practice in Arts and Health seeks to create a world that on the one hand is real and on the other – imaginary. Using digital imaging, I effectively ‘paint with photographs’. Each image is made up of many smaller photographs enabling me to create large scale imagery. The work for Hospitals and Health Centres, incorporates images of the locality with lots of details. The images contain elements of flora and fauna, which brings the outside natural world into the clinical environment. It is now well known that visual art in the Healing Environment can have a beneficial impact on wellbeing.
The artwork I create for Arts and health aims to distract patients, taking them to other places and therefore relieve some anxiety. I am a firm believer in the functionality of art. If artwork was required in different spaces within a build it would be important to work closely with staff and the project team to identify the type of function the artwork would need for each space. For example in a corridor, or entrance you may not want people gathering and blocking the space for too long. Therefore these artworks could be used to create an impact, whilst images in social spaces can be used for conversations and discussions.
Arts and Health – Engaging with the Community.
Fundamental to my practice is engagement with the community, as it either inspires the final images or is used directly to create the artworks. Engagement can take many different formats; I often work with a creative writer, Maria Whatton (please see http://www.seeingstories.com) to hold workshops. Together we work with staff and patients to uncover locations in the community that are important in some way. Other projects have focused on the idea of ‘change’ or ‘home’.
Participants are encouraged to write visually, using similes to describe their ideas. Other workshops have used photography and digital imaging to collate images from the community. The resulting images and texts are then digitally manipulated and used to create the final artworks. Sometimes when time is short for participants, conversations will take place with staff and specialist staff to identify the kinds of procedures taking place in a particular space, or the kinds of emotional state of the patients. For example in ‘A World of Difference’ Staff discussed the high level of anxiety often experienced by patients entering the hospital. The enormous flower images serve to distract and also pull the patient into the image as they attempt to identify the landscape caught in the heart of the flower.