Dorothy House Hospice care set local art students a challenge: to explore death and dying culminating in an exhibition in their local community during Dying Matters week.
As a society we try not to think about death and dying, let alone talk about it. The aim of this collaboration was to open up dialogue. Art and Textile students and tutors from Wiltshire College, Trowbridge linked up with hospice patients, carers and staff to increase their understanding of living with a life limiting illness and how hospices can support families during their journey.
Hospice staff made a presentation at Trowbridge College and students visited the hospice and talked openly with patients to help inform their work. The process and results have been inspiring for all involved. Students have shown a high level of maturity and understanding, a student said. ‘Doing this project has made me appreciate my life.... I don’t always appreciate what I have. It has made me more aware.’ Patients were empowered, ‘I was surprised that anything I had to say would be important enough to be read by a group of students’. Hospice staff have an increased awareness of the importance of giving patients a voice.
The varied use of media expresses each student’s individuality and understanding of both the physical and emotional impact of disease, death, loss and bereavement. Textiles, sculpture, painting and computer graphics will be exhibited as part of Dying Matters week in Trowbridge town hall. The creative coordinator at Dorothy house will be in attendance to talk to visitors about the artwork and the hospice, ‘It is clear how the making of art can increase understanding and open up the dialogue of challenging subjects, enriching the lives of those who helped to make the exhibition happen and those who will come to view it’.
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