Ashgate Hospicecare art project helps bereaved relatives deal with grief of losing a loved one
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Jackie Waring received ‘warm and comforting care’ during the last 11 days of her life at the Chesterfield hospice, after being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and having a stroke.
Her partner, Sarah Thomas who volunteered at Ashgate’s events prior to the pandemic, said the hospice allowed Jackie to “get peace out of what was her chaos and enabled her to have the best death possible.”
After Jackie passed away aged 60 on April, 7 2017, Sarah attended the charity’s Art at Ashgate programme in early 2020.
The project which was funded from an Arts Council England grant, was developed in partnership with Chesterfield-based arts charity Junction Arts and saw two resident artists work with Ashgate Hospicecare to support patients and families.
Sarah was one of more than 200 participants to join in with the sessions held by professional artists Fi Burke and Miriam Robinson, who helped to integrate creative art into the care provided by the hospice.
She said: “The greatest surprise from attending the sessions was the benefit I got from doing an activity that I wouldn't normally have used to explore my feelings.
"This helped me get through the grief of losing Jackie.
“We started by drawing the cup we were drinking from and the artist, Fi, tasked us with producing a picture of it, which was even a credit to me – someone who has no artistic skills.
“The fact that I have kept my artwork says a great deal about what I found beneficial – I was able to progress from a tight dull picture at the beginning to one that had more colour and was free with no border.
“This enabled me to realise that although I still miss Jackie terribly, I have enabled myself to work through my initial grief so I can appreciate that life can be fun again.”
The workshops were initially held at the hospice’s Old Brampton site and across its community, but the sessions were held virtually from July due to the pandemic.
Work created by patients and relatives through the Art at Ashgate project is now being showcased in an online exhibition of photographs and videos.
Junction Arts also agreed to set up an installation at the hospice featuring original artwork from those being treated there.
Head of supportive care at Ashgate Hospicecare Arlene Honeyman commented: "The aim of the Art at Ashgate project was to help our patients, their families and friends to work with professional artists to provide meaningful art experiences and help support them through whatever they may be going through, whether it be grief after losing a loved one or for someone coming to terms with a recent palliative care diagnosis.
“Being involved in the Arts together benefits our patients by giving them an opportunity to engage creatively and also provides a positive distraction and focus, rather than overthinking their situation or bereavement.
"I’m delighted that the project was so successful and can’t thank our wonderful artists Miriam and Fi enough for their support with the project.”
Click here to view some of the Art at Ashgate work.