Art exhibition boost for brain injury patients in Norwich
06:30 17 June 2014
They are colourful artworks that would grace many galleries across Norfolk.
A specialist rehabilitation unit for patients that have suffered brain injuries is set to receive a splash of colour - thanks to people who have been treated for complex neurological disabilities in Norwich.
Dozens of paintings, drawings, photos and tapestries, created by patients of Jubilee House in Unthank Road, will go on display from tomorrow to brighten up the facility run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C).
The Art of Recovery exhibition will showcase work by patients who have been treated at the unit, which is part of the Colman Centre for Specialist Rehabilitation Services, as well as clients from brain injury charity Headway.
Officials praised the standard of work from the project, which has helped unlock the creativity of people who have suffered trauma to their heads or a brain haemorrhage.
Rediscovering art after motorcycle accident
Art has always been a big part of Berris Ripley’s life.
After attending art college, he was about to begin a degree course when a motorbike accident left him with a brain injury and facing a long road to recovery.
He spent two and a half years semi-conscious, but eventually recovered enough to work as a part-time art therapist in a psychiatric hospital for around four years.
Unfortunately, he had to give up the role when it became too much for him. But the 69-year-old, who lives in Norwich, rekindled his love in 2010 when he started going to Headway.
He said: “Art has been my life, my raison d’etre, so my social worker suggested that I go along to Headway where I could join a group and get involved in art again.”
“When the possibility of an exhibition at Jubilee House was suggested I was all for it and was happy to submit some of my work. It’s important to spread the word about the importance of art as a means of expression.”
The 31 pieces include a collection of brain scans called ‘The Core of Me’, which run alongside a narrative about the personality of each patient. The exhibition has been put together over the past year and will remain on display permanently in Jubilee House for patients, their families and trust staff to enjoy.
Paul Fisher, clinical psychologist at Jubilee House, said the idea came about after the NHS trust visited Headway to see the therapeutic benefits of art for patients and presented an opportunity to make the facility a more friendly and welcoming environment for patients carers and staff.
“Some of the pieces are very emotive and some are extremely thought-provoking. I believe the collection represents many of the different feelings people may experience during their recovery. Some of the pieces show some of the difficulties and challenges of living with a complex disability whilst others seem to touch on themes of hope or humour.”
“What is especially interesting is that a number of the artists we are featuring were not aware they had an artistic flair before their brain injury, but have developed those skills since. It shows that people are able to grow, change and develop new talents and abilities as part of their recovery from a brain injury, which is incredibly important to the work that we do,” he said.
John finds his calling
When John Potter suffered a brain aneurysm 13 years ago, it led to him being diagnosed with vascular dementia that caused short-term memory loss and periods of depression.
However, the 66-year-old said he had found his calling since joining Headway’s art group four years ago.
The Norwich man attends the art sessions three times a week and paints landscapes and birds, as well as Christmas cards, which Headway sells to help pay for outings for clients.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Mr Potter attended the outpatients service at Jubilee House. He is now looking forward to returning to the unit to look at the work included in the exhibition.
He said: “When I first started going to Headway I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.”
“I joined the art group, found my niche and haven’t looked back since. I particularly enjoy the peace and quiet and sense of achievement. It came as a real surprise to me that painting is something that I’m good at and really enjoy.”
“The group is incredibly supportive and we have lots of discussions and plenty of laughs. We all have our own individual challenges but accept each other for who we are, and I feel less isolated and more sociable as a result.”
Jubilee House is the home of the community health trust’s outreach service for neurological rehabilitation to help people with brain damage and non-progressive neurological conditions to develop the skills needed to help them enjoy the best possible quality of life.
Angela Page, occupational therapist from Headway Norfolk and Waveney, said the artwork on show was only a small sample of the work created at their art sessions.
“At the centre, clients of all abilities, are enabled to explore their creativity with the help of support workers, and for many, art has given them a sense of purpose and a reason to get up in the morning.
“Daily life can be full of frustrating challenges for someone with a brain injury and, therefore, being able to be creative in a friendly, relaxed and supportive environment, empowers them to be able to focus on a different type of challenge. We hope that the paintings give patients, relatives and staff pleasure whilst they spend time at Jubilee House, and hopefully they will feel inspired to pick up a paintbrush and experience for themselves the therapeutic value of art,” she said.
The Art of Recovery exhibition received backing from NCH&C’s charitable fund for the framing and display of the artwork.
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