“There were times when I was reading this book that the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and I felt my eyes prick with tears.”
(Fiona Roscoe, Advanced Nurse Practitioner)
A new book of experimental art and poetry by older people in hospital will help patients cope with illness and is being promoted as part of nurse training.
PATIENCE is an account of the emotional rollercoaster of illness. The poems and artworks are by patients who are sometimes in the process of recovery, sometimes coming to terms with dying. The book trials experimental ways of working that haven’t been used in hospital arts, in a bid to get closer to the genuine voice of patients.
Poet Philip Davenport explained: “We hope PATIENCE will help people deal with the journey through illness. The poems and artworks were made using cutup techniques, blending text and art, which allowed people to make delicate, tangential work that reflected their physical state. There’s a lot of humour and acceptance in the pieces. The idea is that PATIENCE will help people realise they’re not alone in illness, others have been there too.”
“We have put copies of the book on the wards for people to see. But the workshops were a tonic in themselves, the act of making something creative helps patients deal with illness, bringing respite. ”
“The end product is the joy you get from creating it…” (David, patient)
“Writing helps – ever since my stroke it helps me to spell – gets my brain working. Sometimes I get a bit down and I say to myself: come on you silly monkey, get writing. Do something.” (Joyce, patient)
PATIENCE was compiled from workshops and interviews with people in healthcare in the North West of England by arts organisation arthur+martha, in a Lottery-funded project. Threading between the art and poems are interviews with nurses, doctors and carers. The book becomes a cross-section of hospital life, using artworks, photographs (many are snapshots taken by patients of the view from their bed) poems, discussion. There are forewords by poet Carol Watts and psychiatrist Francis Creed; renowned American poet Robert Grenier wrote the ‘afterwards’.
"The crossover between image and word is what makes this book unique - someone's shaky handwriting, or their face, or an object they've labelled - they are the fingerprints of real life. These little indications of frailty are very moving, " commented Artist Lois Blackburn from arthur+martha. “We encountered amazing determination, humour and kindness in hospital amongst patients and staff. People dealing with dementia, depression, diabetes, strokes... We met the experts in treating these illnesses and the sufferers, who in their own way are also experts. Their insights are important to pass on; they teach us how to live in our bodies gracefully as we age.”
As well as being a tool for the wards, the book is being promoted as an adjunct for nurse training, giving student nurses a unique opportunity to understand and empathise with the point-of-view of older patients. The book is also available to the general public as an artful object in itself - a moment of peace in the midst of panic, a meditation on a rollercoaster.
PATIENCE 129pp hardback, full colour ISBN 978-0-9539367-8-6 retails at £24.99 and is currently available from Amazon at: