SPH Residents Exploring the Artist Within
written by Charlie White
On a sunny morning in December I was fortunate enough to attend an art class at the McTavish Academy of the Arts (MAOA) with six residents of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation’s Residential Care Unit. They have travelled to MAOA every Thursday morning for the past four weeks on the residential care bus which was graciously provided by the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary. These aspiring artists had already completed a few lessons in the previous weeks, so when I arrived they were putting the finishing touches on their masterpieces. Their teacher, Harry was clearly adored by his students and was happy to lend advice on how to best create the image that each artist had envisioned for their canvas. Harry was supportive of each student, while also challenging and inspiring them to take their painting to the next level, by adding new colors and changing their brush strokes. Harry had many skills and tips to share with his students. It was clear that the students enjoyed learning from a true artist.
Jane, a Recreational Therapist at SPH, said “I am thankful for our wonderful partnership with MAOA because the art program provides a bridge between residential care and community-based programs to support integration of the individual to their community. Through assistance from Harry and the supportive environment at MAOA, the residents are able to explore their true creative abilities”. Jane shared with me that the goals of the program include: increasing access to the community arts programs, providing opportunities for creative exploration, facilitating a connection to past or new leisure activities, and increasing quality of life by fostering a sense of purpose and connection.
I chatted with a few of the artists about their artwork and inspiration. One woman shared a story with me about her childhood in the Prairies and how as she and her family drove to the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border there was a magnificent valley which provided relief from the flat prairie landscape. Her painting captured the depth and colors of the valley well and almost appeared three-dimensional. Other artists painted a stunning cityscape and a mountain range with a river running through. The creativity in the room was endless.
Many people feel that long term care is the end of discovering new abilities or having hobbies, however watching these artists create extraordinary masterpieces really showcases how people are able to develop new talents and passions at any age. The outcomes of the art program have demonstrated improved social and emotional wellbeing, creative exploration, and skill development. In addition to art, the Saanich Peninsula Hospital offers many programs for residents of the residential care unit, such as yoga, music, and gardening.
Art created by SPH residents will be showcased at an Art Show at the hospital in the Spring.