Wendy & Beryl's Art Club

Westbury Arts Centre talks to a nursing home resident and her artist daughter about how painting together united them in lockdown.

The Studio (1944) by Fred UhlmanPaintings in Hospitals

Beryl has Advanced Dementia, this is her story

Wendy's mum Beryl is 85, she lives in a nursing home and because of her condition she is permanently bed bound. Over the last few months she has had a couple of spells in hospital, the last time she came out of hospital she had become noticeably withdrawn, it was difficult to find things that would stimulate her.

Chatting to Beryl virtually was a challenge during lockdown

Beryl was really not able to communicate, it became increasingly more difficult to have these Skype sessions. On one particular day Wendy was frustrated at the situation with Skype and wanted to engage with Beryl in a more interactive way - so decided to show her mum some of her paintings which she had recently done herself during lockdown.

A glimmer of interest

Wendy would talk to Beryl about the paintings she had been working on - it was at this point something magical started to happen - There was a flicker of joy in her eyes, a glimmer of interest.

What's more in that moment of painting and producing a piece of artwork she has a happy, positive experience. Even though this may be forgotten within a short while I know that this positive experience will last a long time.

Cottage Garden (1993) by Stephen BowerPaintings in Hospitals

Beryl's Activities Coordinator also noticed the spark

It was not long after that they took things one step further and with the help of the activities coordinator started their very own art club. The theme would always be flowers, they started off with daisies - all the paints and materials were gathered and an hour of painting commenced together online.

Wendy describes the art session

"Beautiful and amazing, what an unexpected surprise, my mum has never been artistic so I was blown away with how focussed she was and how she concentrated on all the detail. We talk about what we're doing, we talk about the colours we're choosing, we have a conversation!"

Continuing to paint

That was just the beginning. Over the weeks both Wendy and Beryl continued to paint. Always using the theme of flowers - For VE day they chose poppies, they've also chosen buttercups, sunflowers and Forget-me-Nots. A heart-warming story of how creativity and art connect us.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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