I’m a small Community Interest Company called The Art of Giving which produces art for community spaces.
Before Covid-19 I was working primarily with my local hospital (The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading) producing framed art in the form of words and imagery about life to display in patient waiting rooms and some staff spaces. The aim of my art is to connect with people. Many of my pictures acknowledge some of life’s challenges whilst also communicating a message of hope, comfort and positivity. I’ve always been keen to involve NHS staff in selecting which pictures are most appropriate for a given space as they’ve really appreciated any improvements to their working environment. During my hospital visits I got to see first-hand how many staff rest areas were in need of some TLC and staff never asked for any art for themselves as they saw patient spaces as the priority. I disagreed and started producing art for staff spaces too! I’ve had wonderful feedback from the staff. Before Covid, I was working on a number of NHS patient and staff projects.
When Covid-19 took a grip, I knew that my art projects would be put on hold as staff were redeployed because some wards closed as Covid rightly became everyone’s focus. My initial reaction was to put my artwork to one side and to focus on gardening and baking - neither of which are my strength areas! After a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself and fuelled by stories of others ‘Can Do’ examples I decided to let go of having framed and mounted work which required being fixed to the walls and focused on what I could make from my home office. So I selected 12 appropriate images which I could print in-house as A3 posters as these were cost effective, easy to post out and put on the wall with the pack of Blu Tack included! I knew that my art boosted staff morale and that they needed it now more than ever.
During the first 2 months, I produced over 1000 prints which I’ve sent to hospitals and care homes all over the UK. Not perfectly framed but they’re good enough and the feedback has been lovely. For example, I received this message from an Emergency Department Nurse: ‘I would like to thank you for the amazing art. Sometimes it is very easy to forget to look after ourselves whilst looking after others and this visual reminder is so much more effective than words alone'.
I will continue to produce art in this way as I can reach many more people and I’m open to expand into other community areas. Working in this new way has improved my own mental health by helping me to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t. I know that people have faced and continue to face many challenging situations and for those with mental health issues this is an especially difficult time but amongst all of this there are many examples of hope with a ‘Can Do’ attitude.
Images created and produced by The Art of Giving CIC