The art students of the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education have recently undertaken a project to produce a range of artwork influenced by the nostalgic memories of people who use the Older Persons Mental Health Service. The artwork has been placed in the communal room at the Central Community Health Centre in Douglas for the enjoyment of both staff and service users.
The communal room is utilised by older people who use the Older Persons Mental Health Service, who may live with conditions such as dementia and depression. The room had been identified by service users and staff as too formal and office-like. It was decided to improve the environment by making it more relaxed and welcoming with the installation of contemporary artwork, given the positive impact art can have on wellbeing, known as ‘healing arts’.
As part of their study programme, first year art students studying through the College should complete a project which involves collaborative working within the community. In discussion and agreement with the students, they were commissioned to produce a range of artwork influenced by memories and eras of the service users. Several meetings were organised where the students could ask questions relating to the project, talk to service users about their memories and the type of artwork that they would like, and there was an opportunity to take photographs of the area where the artwork would be displayed.
Paul Jackson, Older Persons Mental Health Services Manager, said: “The artwork is now on display and the response has been very positive. It is a talking point and evokes good memories for the service users. There are many positive benefits of the artwork in this setting including stimulating memory function and communication, promoting relaxation and improving mood as well as improving the ambience of the environment.”
One of the paintings is based on the Palace Lido, bringing back nostalgic memories for those who danced to various performances; the other artwork is a mix-media collage representing famous TT riders with the vocal point being a vintage bike.
Bill Henderson MHK, Member for Mental Health Services, said: “I would like to thank the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education for working with the Department, and the students for producing such excellent standards of artwork, and for assisting in two of my personal interests – caring for older people and Manx nostalgia. Reminiscing is a wonderful way to reach out to older people and build valuable relationships.”