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P-32 Material legacies, in the landscape of the lost, 2017
  1. Annalie Ashwell
  1. The Hospice of St Francis, Berkhamsted, UK


An exhibition to engage the local community and enable conversations about death and dying.

Background The exhibition was the final re-staging of the artworks generated during a collaborative five-year PhD research project between the hospice, three bereaved stakeholders and designer, Dr. Stacey Pitsillides. The exhibition ran for two weeks in a local arts venue and provided research collaborators with the opportunity to become local ambassadors. Throughout the exhibition the hospice ran events including an outpatient centre ‘taster day’, a creative therapies education day and a life drawing class.

Aims To utilise the exhibition of artworks created by three bereaved women as a means of engaging the local community in discussions around death, dying and bereavement, and to raise awareness and visibility of hospice services.

Methods To install the exhibition in an easy-to-reach and accessible venue located on the high street of the local hospice town. To deliver events to engage the community and increase understanding of hospice services.

Results Results gathered from 21 visitor feedback forms:

  • 19 people said that after visiting the exhibition they would feel more inclined to access hospice support services

  • On a scale of 1 –10 (1 being not at all – 10 being very well), 17 people scored 8+ in how important it is to talk about death and dying in the local community

  • Words captured describing the exhibition: ‘inspiring, amazing, interesting, enlightening, necessary, thought provoking, clever, innovative, refreshing, insightful, challenging, sincere’

In addition 40 people attended the ‘taster day’ and 13 allied health professionals attended the creative therapies education day.

Conclusion The arts are a powerful vehicle to engage communities in difficult and challenging conversations about death and dying and taking services off-site can help to raise awareness and increase understanding of hospice services.

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