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!


Stuart and Gabrielle said...

Well done to both of you, superb stuff, as usual. I particularly like the picture of Joan's room, full of a sense of her long life and memories.
I've just reinstated you to my blogroll; I lost all when I migrated to our new web address and forgot to put you back ... oops!

Berichten uit de luwte said...

"Careful they don't keep you in" quips Mr P on the ferry over. Is that a compliment? Great work!

DOT said...

Alan Titchmarsh - by name but Tit by nature - is the old people's friend and better than any sleeping draught. Zzzzz

Caroline said...

Stuart and Gabrielle, thank you.
Berichten- it's a comment on my advancing years!
Dot, yes, can't stand the man!

Geraldine said...

Fascinating, thank you. and lovely drawings.

Caroline said...

Geraldine, belated thanks!

Anonymous said...

Youe work is very good, however I think your attitude is patronising, if I were a resident of a care home I think I might just be insulted,

Caroline said...

Margaret, it's sad you feel that way.
I've had nothing but compliments from readers of my blog,and from the residents,the care home owners and the staff about our sensitivity during our stay.
We were chosen for these qualities by the owners of this private home, who would not have otherwise entrusted us to carry out this residency.
My own mother is 87 and has early dementia, and Dad died in January at the age of 88 from illnesses associated with advanced dementia. My attitude towards them, and to the care home residents is one of respect and compassion.
We are trusted, professional artists of the highest integrity- your ill-thought remarks reflect your own inability to see the difference between compassion and patronisation,and they have no base in reality.