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John Taylor Hospice - Takes Art!

Home > Birmingham > Free | Exhibitions | Churches | Art | Rainy Day
by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Patients and their paintbrushes
Birmingham's John Taylor Hospice is staging an exhibition of artwork created by people who attend the centre's Day Hospice.

More than a dozen people have created paintings, collage, tapestries and memory boxes for the show which is being staged at St Martin's Church in the Bull Ring, Birmingham city centre.

The exhibition, which opened on June 19, is aiming to share work with members of the public and encourage people to discover more about the Hospice, which is a social enterprise and a member of Social Enterprise UK, and end of life care.

John Taylor Hospice

Putting the artwork in the public arena was the idea of 65-year-old John Cowan of Alum Rock who attends the Day Hospice once a week.

He says: "For me art is a must. You get a real sense of satisfaction when you finish a work and when someone says they like it, it's even better. I paint all kinds of things but I really like abstract paintings.

"I first began painting when I started using the wheelchair," says John, who has multiple sclerosis and has attended John Taylor's Heart of the Hospice Day Hospice for more than ten years.

"When I did my first painting it was sent off to the Arts Council and I won an award so I realised it was something I could really do.

"When you see people here finish a painting their faces light up. I think everyone will be really proud to be involved in the exhibition."

For Day Hospice visitor Linda Taggart, the project has been a real discovery.

"This is the first time I have ever done a painting and I am really proud of it," says 52-year-old Linda of Erdington, who has bone cancer and has attended the Day Hospice for a couple of years. "I painted it for my brother Robert."

Linda's painting is an abstract self-portrait based on a photo taken at the Hospice.

"I wanted it to be a bit abstract so it would be something different," she says. "I was really pleased when I finished it and I am looking forward to seeing it in the exhibition."

The project has been coordinated by John Taylor's participatory artist Anne Brierley and will also include portraits of some of the Day Hospice visitors by student artist Lauren Buffery.

Anne says: "We do a lot of art activities in our Heart of the Hospice and the patients were keen to let other people see the work they do.

"In some cases it has been people creating memory boxes of times which matter to them from their past. So they have been bringing in photographs and talking about those stories.

"In other cases it has been people who are interested in a particular subject creating a painting. So, for example, Ray Earp, who attends on a Thursday, is a huge fan of Elvis Presley so he has done a painting of Elvis."

John Taylor Hospice, art, St Martin's, Bull Ring
Ray Earp with Elvis

Anne and her team were keen to ensure the project be as inclusive as possible.

"We have some people who come to Heart of the Hospice who don't have use of their hands, maybe because of motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis, but they have still been very involved in making memory boxes," she says. "They have very definite ideas of what they want where and I am the technician putting it all together.

"There are also other people who were very active in the arts before they became poorly and they wanted to exhibit some of the paintings or tapestries which they did before."

Anne hopes the exhibition, which will also include a badge-making workshop, will help to make people aware of the life stories of people who attend the Hospice.

"It has been really interesting because when someone brings in an old photo and tells you about that then it can really make you see them differently. There is the person sitting in front of you and there is a whole story of their past and it is bringing those two together."

Also included in the exhibition is a series of memory boxes by 82-year-old Gerald McCarty of Kingstanding. Each box features a set of photos and mementoes from a specific time in his life.

John Taylor Hospice, St Martin's, Bull Ring, Birmingham
Gerald McCarty and his memory boxes

"There is one from when I did my first day of National Service when I trained as a radar operator, another from when I was attached to Bomber Command in 1952-54, a collage for my cycling days, a collage for a day at the races," says Gerald who has prostate cancer and attends Day Hospice each week.

"It's about a celebration of when I was younger and of my life. And it is a good way of sharing your story with other people here. At John Taylor Hospice you have good company and you can chat about all of your experiences."

John Taylor Hospice was founded in 1910 and gifted to the NHS in 1948. In 2011, with the changes occurring within the NHS, staff voted to leave the NHS and set us as an independent social enterprise.

John Taylor Hospice has been at the forefront of changing people's perceptions about Hospices and end of life care. Last summer it staged an exhibition and symposium with Birmingham's Ikon Gallery featuring photographs of people cared for by the Hospice and their families taken by local artist Stuart Whipps.

Hospice CEO Kate Phipps says: "Death is ordinary but the taboo which still surrounds talking around death, the sense of loss and our knowledge of how our loved ones have died make it something to be feared and/or seem like an extraordinary conversation.

"The generosity of the people who choose John Taylor for help enables us to take everyday conversations into Birmingham around end of life.

"People have experienced great joy and love in working with Stuart and, having found their voices, are delighted to share them with the city to inspire other people.

"This exhibition is the latest stage in that story we hope people will enjoy seeing the work that has been created and that it will encourage them to continue these conversations."

The John Taylor Hospice Heart of the Hospice exhibition is at St Martin's Church in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, until July 8. Opening hours are Mondays 10am-2pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays 10am-3.30pm, Sundays 9am-7pm.

For more information on the Hospice see

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Why? Because every moment matters
When: until July 8
Phone: 0121 465 2000
Where: t St Martin's Church in the Bull Ring, Birmingham
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I think the memory boxes look interesting.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12626) 2578 days ago
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