My experience of taking part in The Centenary of Caring exhibition
Through online workshops, those involved created work that represented their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on their wellbeing.
Libby discusses her experience of the project and the ways it impacted her outlook of the pandemic.
Can you tell me a bit about the project?
The aim of this project was for artists and medical practitioners to produce a virtual exhibition about our experiences of the pandemic through group discussions. I was part of the mental health group. We spoke a lot about each other’s experiences and thoughts about the different events throughout the pandemic and what it was like for those working on the mental health wards during this time.
As artists we spoke about how the conversations we were having can translate into works of art and helped to visualise the thoughts and emotions that were expressed during these group discussions.
In what ways did the exhibition theme resonate with you?
I have been interested in how art can work alongside healthcare for a long time, however in many cases the use of art within health care is directed at patients rather than staff so I was particularly interested in how creativity could support key workers.
I was really interested in this collaboration and the process of how these artworks were going to be made. I have noticed how important the arts have been for everyone throughout the pandemic and how many people have turned to creativity during the lockdowns.
Can you tell me about the work you created for the exhibition?
The piece I created for the exhibition is a small embroidery piece. Using my dad’s handwriting I have stitched the statement ‘Who looks after the strong ones?’. This is a statement that was regularly repeated during our conversations and made me think more about the mental strain of working on a ward during these times.
In our group we had people who were working in mental health wards and they spoke about how they had to put on a metaphorical mask to show a brave face while looking after their patients but questioned who was there to look after them.
This statement also had a more personal meaning for me. My dad works as a Consultant in Public Health and although he has been working from home he has been working very long hours, often working until late in the evening.
The conversations that we had during this project helped me to reflect on my family’s experiences and how much my dad would have struggled if he didn’t have us around. It also helped me to understand the experiences of others; not everyone will have a close support network but are still having to take on long hours of work.
How did you find the experience of collaborating with health and social care practitioners for this exhibition?
I really enjoyed this form of collaboration and having the opportunity to speak to different people about their experiences. A lot of my artwork is about human experiences and being able to collaborate with the people that the artwork is inspired by strengthens the artwork and my message within it. It is a reminder of why we make the art that we do.
Did this collaborative exhibition impact your own experience of the Covid-19 pandemic?
This exhibition helped me to reflect on my own experiences. It gave me a much better understanding of the variety of different struggles people are facing and helped me to come to terms with the situation that we are in. I really hope that those who view the exhibition can also experience a moment of reflection.