Art students from Furness College are putting on a thought-provoking exhibition in partnership with St Mary’s Hospice. Students, who are on the CTEC course at the sixth form campus, were tasked to create pieces of work on the theme of ageing and loss.
Their work will go on display at a free exhibition at St Mary’s Living Well Centre, Barrow-in-Furness on Wednesday 15th May 2 to 8pm, and Thursday 16th May to 10am to 1pm as part of national Dying Matters week.
Anne Atkinson, St Mary’s Hospice’s Head of Volunteering and Community Engagement explains: “We approached Barrow Sixth Form College in January 2018 to see if they would be interested in an art project to help celebrate our 30th anniversary in a different way. Inspiration had been taken from an innovative project ‘Stimulating the art of conversation’ run by East Lancs Hospice to encourage conversations about death and dying through work with local colleges. Our aim was to create an exhibition of artworks that would spark conversations with visitors and viewers.”
The activity is being launched to tie in to National Dying Matters Awareness week which aims to break down the barriers surrounding dying. And encourage people to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.
Alyson Dickson, St Mary’s Family Support and Bereavement Volunteer ran an introductory session to explore ageing with the students, and students also visited the hospice to have a talk and a tour: “The students have really embraced the themes of loss, grief and ageing. They have used the ideas they formed through discussion, and their visit to the hospice, to develop some very interesting and insightful art. I am looking forward to seeing it exhibited.”
Tutor Vicky Shaw said it was a fantastic opportunity for the students to gain experience working with a charity organisation: “It is always an honour to work with our community on projects that are so meaningful. The students’ creativity has shone through and we hope their excellent pieces will be enjoyed by many people. They have addressed a thought provoking and complex topic and I am delighted they are now able to exhibit their artwork in a public place.”
Jasmine Gill, of Haverigg, who took part in the project said she had been inspired by the flowers on the hospice logo: “My piece is a very personal interpretation of ageing and loss,” she said. “I like to keep my artwork very pretty and make it look nice. I didn’t want it to be depressing so I’ve added the flowers. It was upsetting at times but we wanted to create something that would start a conversation and talk about ageing and loss as more normal.”
Sharon Dale, of Barrow, another student whose work will be displayed has created artwork on an animal theme. “For me loss is not just about losing people but also pets who can be part of the family,” she said. “It has been a privilege to take part in this and to visit the hospice and meet the staff and they’ve also been to college.”
Anne Atkinson who has overseen the project has seen the work develop: “It has been fascinating to see how each student has approached what is a difficult topic in different ways. Some have really gone out of their comfort zones to create the work in different genres to their usual work. There is a real variety of work and it will make for an interesting and diverse exhibition.
We are really looking forward to sharing the student’s work to a wide audience and giving people an opportunity to come into our Living Well Centre and find out more about the hospice and how we can support people.”
Information will be made available at Furness College and at the Living Well centre to share how anyone with a life shortening illness or long term condition can access St Mary’s services.