Arts for Health Comes to Riverside Ward, Newholme Hospital

A  wonderful statement by the staff of the Riverside Ward about their experiences of working with the Fortuitous Novelties to be featured in their local press…

Specially-commissioned art pieces presented to Riverside Ward, Newholme Hospital

Arts and crafts has always been central to therapy on Riverside’s older people mental health ward.  Therefore the occupational therapy team, who look after patients with dementia at the Bakewell Hospital, had no hesitation in seizing the opportunity to work with Darren Browett, an artist from Manchester University.

Darren creates 3D sculptures “Fortuitous Novelties”, objects that resemble seedpods and contain sets of symbolic objects which can be held and used to discover the images etched on them.

These have the capacity to provoke memories and conversations when used either on an individual or group basis. The intention of the wooden sculptures can be understood and explored from a traditional cultural perspective which may be related to work skills and have strong connections to people’s everyday lives. These are also wonderful works of art which can be appreciated and explored in their own right; again provoking meaningful and interesting and unique experiences especially amongst those patients experiencing dementia.

The therapy staff supported the artist by leading groups based around the exploration and discussions around the seedpods. This proved to be a inspirational experience for those involved – especially the staff who found this to be both educational for themselves but also recognised this as being a whole new innovative way of approaching and engaging dementia patients in the appreciation of art.

The symbols on the seeds then triggered reminiscences that were meaningful to the group members which makes the worth of the art objects two-fold providing not only a reminiscence resource but also a unique piece of art which can be shared with many patients in the future.

Speaking about the project, Lorraine Turner, an occupational therapist who works on Riverside ward, said: “The project was very successful both for the patients and the staff group involved.

“Some of the patients in the group included some severely impaired individuals. It was really lovely to see them engage and connect with such a meaningful creative experience. From a therapy point of view it was so insightful and inspiring to have this opportunity to work with such a talented and enthusiastic artist to help produce not only a work of art but also create a unique reminiscence resource which will be regularly used to facilitate rich and meaningful memories for our patients. Therefore we will not only be able to celebrate and appreciate the art for arts sake but also celebrate the uniqueness of the individual from the memories evoked during the reminiscence sessions utilising these wonderful seedpods.”

The specially-commissioned seedpods form one of a number of Arts4Health projects commissioned by local community health organisation Derbyshire Community Health Services to use art to positively influence the lives of patients.

The objects were donated to the Riverside Ward, Newholme Hospital by Manchester Metropolitan University free of charge.

The occupational therapy team therefore feel that the experience had given new insights into the value of art appreciation thus expanding their field of knowledge in the engagement of sometimes severely impaired individuals.


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