Sunday 8 May 2011

A Care Home Sketchbook

Last month, Mr Price and myself have a week's residency in a care home on the South coast of England- I'm invited to fill a sketchbook with drawings of the staff and residents, and my fellow artist is to paint a jolly mural in the entrance hall.
"Careful they don't keep you in" quips Mr P on the ferry over.
The first day's spent meeting staff and finding our way around. I get an anxious text from my son ..' does it smell of wee?'. Well, no, thankfully and there are pretty tablecloths and fresh flowers in the dining room.
I don't want intrude suddenly into the lives of those who work, or even pass their last days in the home and it's best, I think, to draw the gardens first, so that folk can see me from the windows and get used to my small figure snooping around!

After a day or so, I ask the residents in the TV lounge- those who've stayed awake during Alan Titchmarsh- if they'd mind my sitting with them and sketching.

The elderly have a habit of dropping off, which makes for easy portraits...
.........but on Wednesdays, the hairdresser comes. There's a hidden sink in the cupboard in the corner of the lounge for washing hair, then she puts the rollers in, which gives a more animated series of sketches.

Meanwhile, Mr. Price is getting on well with his mural, despite the attentions of an elderly admirer who tells him he's a big man, he's got big legs and a fat belly .

One of the ladies invites me to her room to show me a book of drawings she'd did when younger and later on I'm able to draw her room full of memories. I'm told that some resident's rooms are stuffed with objects from their past life, and others bring nothing with them.

The staff, too, are important it's essential I capture the day-to-day hard work of running the home.....
..... and their many acts of kindness towards the residents,
I'm touched by people's friendliness and feel privileged to have the
opportunity to document such an interesting place!