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QEHB Charity funds patient artwork project
November 1, 2012
Patients attending a research clinic at University Hospitals Birmingham are benefiting from an art project which saw moulds of their feet and hands made out of bees wax.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity donated £250 to the cost of the project to produce artwork for the Clinical Research Facility, based in the old QE.
The Art Project was created by Birmingham artist Wendy Titmus following a competition run by the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility.
Wendy, from Quinton, graduated this summer from Birmingham City University with a First Class BA Honours degree in Visual Arts by Negotiated Study.
She decided to make the project as interactive as possible, by making casts of patients’ hands and feet and also recording their thoughts and feelings in a special publication.
The project focused on patients with Lupus, an illness of the immune system that can affect any part of the body.
Joanna Gray, Deputy Clinical Manager at the WTCRF, said: “We were looking for some art for the unit but we wanted some interaction as well. The Trust’s former arts coordinator, Rose Strang, put us in touch with the university and it started from there.
“We felt it was a great opportunity to have a competitive process where students could apply and provide us with examples of their work. We had a panel of judges and Wendy’s work won a unanimous vote. We wanted it to be an interactive project involving the patients we have in the unit.”
Wendy, who has gone on to start a Masters at Birmingham City University’s School of Art, said the patients led the project from the outset.
“When I spoke to people about art I found that just having time to spend talking to the patients was really helpful. A lot of patients spoke more about the way their life had changed rather than Lupus itself, and the fact that they had a lot of faith in the medical staff, but also religion.”
The student added: “I ended up doing a publication that was based on the patients’ statements. There was one patient, Angela, who writes poetry and she did a couple of poems.
“The final piece was an installation, where she created a room to display bees wax casts she had made of patients’ hands and feet. This has long had a use in religion and also medicine, so I thought it would be good to use both these elements.”
Wendy used the charity donation to create a wooden wall, which she then coated with white paper before attaching the dozen or so casts of hands and feet on to it.
The installation and the publication were then exhibited at the university as part of her final year’s coursework, with some of the UHB staff and patients invited to view it.
Added Joanna: “This was how the project evolved from the original idea. It was very beneficial to the patients to have their words acknowledged in the book, as well as the interaction involved.
“We are getting copies of the book, and we are also looking at the possibility of displaying the casts somewhere within the hospital at some point in the future.”
She said the initial art project involved patients with Lupus because of the nature of the disease, which is often symbolised by a butterfly because of the shape of the rash that can occur on the patients’ face. The finished book is also illustrated with photographs of different butterflies.
Rheumatology Consultant Caroline Gordon commented: “This has been a very positive activity for the patients to be involved with and has encouraged some to pursue their own art work much more actively than in the past, as well as the project having benefited them from being able to share ideas about their illness and its impact on their lives.
“This has made Wendy and others more aware of the disease, as well as being helpful to the patients who talked to her, as they benefit from discussing these issues with someone interested to learn more and they have enjoyed seeing how she reflects her experience of their disease in the art project.”
“The hospital charity provides those added extras that make a huge difference to the lives of military patients and their families. Thank you for your support”
Royal Centre for Defence Medicine staff nurse