Care Home Commission
YOUR FACE IS AS A BOOK
A commission for the Nightingale Care Home for elderly people in Clapham, YOUR FACE IS AS A BOOK was a drawing project comprising over three dozen portraits in charcoal and chalk, each drawing 75 x 55 cms. The project was completed early in 2013.
I was one of several artists who responded to a call to submission, facilitated through the care home by artist Rosalind Wyatt. My aim was to combine the drawings in some way with the spoken words of the sitters, to give them a voice- and to give the onlooker an idea of the life they had led up to this point.
I was working in a unit where most of the residents are in moderate to advanced stages of dementia. Some could not speak at all, some spoke in fragmented ways, some could sustain more of a structured conversation. Whatever they said, I took it down and wrote it on the drawings. I also drew some of the staff.
This has been a significant experience for me and during it, I have often thought of my own mother, who suffered from dementia towards the end of her life and died in a nursing-home.
Twenty of the portraits have been framed, thanks to an anonymous donor, and have been hung by the Timothy Taylor Gallery at the Nightingale.
www.nightingale.org.uk for more info on the Nightingale
www.rosalindwyatt.com for Ros Wyatt’s artwork
www.livingwords.org.uk for other work, by Susanna Howard of Living Words, with people who have dementia