Can art help people face serious illness?

John Jones says the service has helped him rediscover his love for art
Image caption John Jones says the service has helped him rediscover his love for art

Art may bring real pleasure to people's lives but can it also help them if they are faced with ill health?

The creative arts service at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow is throwing open its doors this week to figures from the worlds of art and healthcare.

They say exploring creativity can give people a measure of control back in their lives, at what is a difficult time.

"I just got the taste of it," says John Jones of his art classes.

His chalk picture of a seaside scene reminds him of day trips to the seaside when he was younger. It is partly a work of memory and partly imagination.

The 54-year-old has been a day services patient at Glasgow's Hospice since early 2015 and it has helped him rediscover a love for art.

Image copyright Nick Ponty

A couple of his pieces hang on the walls of the art room and he has begun drawing at home too.

The time spent in the light of this north-facing room is important to him.

He says: "It's relaxation and doing something different. It keeps your mind occupied and away from things. Your mind is not centred on anything other than what you're doing."

The art service was initially started in 2003 from a table in the corner of a room, now they have their own space where pictures cover the walls and there is a table full of pencils, chalk and paper. They also run services for families and carers.

"When we meet people they've been given a difficult diagnosis and they've maybe lost a sense of control," says Jeni Pearson, an artist working at the hospice.

"But in here they're completely in charge of every mark that they make.

"It also allows them to discover new things and I think that's really important within palliative care, that there are opportunities for people to continue to learn and continue to grow as a person and discover new things about themselves."

As well as drawing, patients and their families can print, sculpt, make music and write.

The idea of inviting figures, including artists working within healthcare and palliative care professionals, is to promote interest and awareness.

"A lot of patients come to a nurse-led clinic for anxieties and worries and fears about the future, about their family," says Jane Miller who is education facilitator and clinical nurse specialist at the hospice.

"When they come into an art room, that all goes, they stop thinking about their disease and are just in the moment."

Many people who start doing something creative at the hospice have never done anything like it before and that can mean the people taking part really surprising themselves.

"There's a real energy in the room and you just get this sense that there's this really positive thing happening," concludes Jeni Pearson.

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