Arts and Health

image-10Projects at CW+ Chelsea and Westminster Hospital ‘Meeting places’

The title of project was ‘Meeting Places’ and central to the ethos of the work was the emphasis on the ‘meeting’ of people through the arts. The interventions offered were bespoke, and were developed through the relationship that prioritised person centred arts interventions as the means to support patients. Many of the staff and patient have spoken about ‘learned helplessness’ that can occur during the time in hospital. This project aimed to address and develop patient agency through the exploration of creative expression.

Creative reflections

Movement and improvisation can be invitations to unfold, our physical body, to unfold our feelings, and to unfold our imagination and psyche from the places where thought and the thinking life have narrowed our capacity for remembering and experiencing the mystery of the body and all that it brings.
Orienting ourselves to mystery it seems, is the place where we can meet our aliveness if its been compromised by ill health. There is in movement and embodiment it seems a simultaneous forgetting and remembering of ourselves. The arts offer a bridge in which we cross to meet each other. They offer a way of communicating both verbally and non-verbally, where the ungraceful and the graceful aspects of becoming visible to the each other can be revealed. There is a risk to that, it can be tender and powerful and there’s an awkwardness that come with trying. The arts hold us and propel us into the unknown. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche Speaks of ‘Shaky Tenderness’ this is the best description I have found of what it feels like to enter the ward of the hospital and relational field with the patients.
Welcoming and attending to the state of ‘shaky tenderness’ means that any agenda I might have, personally, unconsciously and that of the institution (known and unknown) can perhaps be emptied a little from me. Attending to shaky tenderness can soften and widen attention so I can become more available to meet the relational ground of the work with as much honesty as possible. Some times in the work in the hospital I can feel like a detective of sorts, gathering clues as to what the ‘mind of ward’ is in that day. Sometimes it is about hanging out, inconspicuously. Sometimes its about being bold, sometimes embracing the clown, often embracing the clown, and often the awkward artist with two many bags and no sense of direction. Many patients have asked me on the ward ‘are you lost’, in some degree I am, and to some degree I need to be. It seems that it calls for the artist to bring fourth that skill of knowing without knowing. What it to be listening, how creative can this act be? What’s possible in this listening? How wide are the things we can listen to, pick up, follow? What is it to begin, where and when does that happen, with and without language?
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