Inpatients and staff from Guild Lodge Forensic Hospital in Whittingham and the new Wesham Rehabilitation Unit have come together to collaborate with students from University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for a second time, to create a vibrant art exhibition.
Opened on Wednesday, 4 May, by renowned Lancashire abstract artist Iain H Williams, Being Human explores who we are and how we make sense of our past, how we live in the present and our hopes and fears for the future.
Visitors will see the culmination of hours of work by BSc (Hons) Coaching, Counselling and Psychological Interventions undergraduate students and staff and service users from Guild Lodge and Wesham at the University’s PR1 Gallery.
The project has been led by Senior Lecturer at in psychological interventions at UCLan, Lowri Douthwaite; Mark Love, Occupational Therapy Manager; Cassie Batterby Technical Instructor artist at Guild Lodge, with input from consultant rehabilitation psychiatrist Dr Emily Kaye and occupational therapist Olivia Graham, both based at Wesham.
Speaking about the exhibition, Mark Love, who worked directly with patients to help them produce their art, said: “Following the success of the previous display towards the end of last year, we wanted to give our service users and staff the opportunity to again showcase the work that they are understandably very proud of.
“But it’s actually about so much more than that. We use art as a therapeutic tool to benefit individuals in their treatment and recovery and we find the sessions help us assess peoples’ skills and strengths, as well as their needs. They are able to socialise, express their feelings and improve their cognitive skills, but most importantly, they can see themselves as being more than a ‘patient’. Our service users gain a sense of control, self-esteem, communication and confidence, as well as a new role.
“The theme of the exhibition is especially poignant as patient-centred care, and treating service users, their families and carers with the dignity and respect they deserve is what being human is all about.”
Mark continued: “The stories behind the pieces of work are incredibly moving and powerful.
“’M&M’ - produced by a service user in seclusion – was a collaboration between us both and was born out of his passion for the rapper Eminem and his lyrics. He always commented on that it was 49% him and 51% me, which shows the value of art being used in such a restrictive environment and building rapport and self-esteem.
“Another great piece, ‘Queen Emma’, is a collage completed by a service user, made for a nurse on his ward. He sees her as caring, an angel and powerful. We then collaborated on another image related to the same subject after agreeing to do a more realistic portrait of her as a nurse.
“Anyone is welcome so please come and see the wonderful work on show.”
Lowri Dowthwaite said: “The students really get a lot out of this module. It allows them to reflect on their own emotions and how they deal with them in a safe and creative way.
“We’ve had students describe taking part in this exhibition as ‘life-changing’ and we’re proud of how much hard work and personality they inject into it.”
Student Nadean Marshall, 37 from Preston, said: “It’s been a fantastic project and I know as a student group we’ve gained so much from it. I was a nursery nurse before I came to UCLan and have always wanted to help others. Once I graduate, I’d like to continue working with young people, helping them with their wellbeing before they need counselling services.
“Personally, it’s been a very reflective experience and made me think about how my own mental health in the past, present and how I hope it will be in the future.”
Mia Lyons, 19 from Leyland, added: “My project involved the production of playing cards from three different types of superhero fiction. The superheroes on each card are recognisable but don’t have faces while on the reverse side is an important, inspiring quote.
“Working with the service users has been really inspiring and confirmed my ambition to specialise in the field of mental health disorders once I graduate.”
The exhibition will officially open to the public from Thursday 5 May to Thursday 12 May between 10.00am and 5.00pm on weekdays. The PR1 Gallery can be found in UCLan’s Victoria Building on Adelphi Street, Preston, PR1 7HD.