Art in Healthcare University Student Friends

DATE POSTED: 18th of March 2013

AiH University Student Friends painting a mural in a school playground

Sarah tells me that although the society has only been running for three years, they already have sixty members who come from very diverse departments, Medicine, Engineering, English, Law, History of Art to name just a few.

What draws them in?

Art for one thing. Some members took art at school but had to drop it, so now they can enjoy doing it through the society, says Sarah.

Art in Healthcare helps by giving them some guidance and ideas for workshops but art practice in itself is not an essential requirement, enthusiasm and a willingness to try amply compensates for any lack of skills. What is far more important is enjoying working with people.

artworks with care home residents

Every Wednesday the society visits Lennox House, a care home in Edinburgh. They go as a group and offer a one on one experience to the elderly residents who, for one hour, engage in topical art projects such as Christmas cards and a chat. It is not surprising that their sessions get the biggest turn out of all the workshops in the care home. And the feeling of satisfaction is mutual judging by these two volunteers' feedback:

"I have been inspired by the residents of Lennox House, who all have such vast catalogues of memories and experiences to share!"

“It was a really rewarding experience. I had a lot of fun! It’s nice to work on a project and see a smile on their faces afterwards.”

The society from time to time organises activities for the teenagers who attend the Star Youth Club in North Berwick. This service is very well received not only by the youngsters, but also by the staff who appreciate how much the children benefit from the creative activities the society offers. The young artists must have been thrilled when the Youth Club exhibited and sold some of their artworks at the Edinburgh Art Fair which helped raise funds for their play scheme.

making messy fireworks paintings

Other projects have included painting a mural to brighten up the neglected playground of Mannafields primary school in Edinburgh. The theme was Noah’s ark and the children were involved in the design of the animals during workshops led by the Society. It took the volunteers four days to complete the work.

As well as their regular weekly activities the society members also find the time to fundraise to cover their travel and materials costs. If any of you readers came to Art in Healthcare’s ‘Art from Art’ exhibition in February, you will remember those delicious and beautiful cupcakes!

the primary school completed mural

This overview of their activities is by no means all-inclusive, but it gives you some idea of the time and dedication the society invests in the local community. However their success does not rest only on their excellent organisation and management skills, it is also about the fun they get out of it and the enjoyment they give others.

Martine Foltier Pugh is a freelance writer and visual artist based in Edinburgh

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With thanks to Sarah Johnston for all the information and to AiH University Student Friends for their comments.
All images courtesy of AiH University Student Friends.