Artist Fay Ballard is leading a weekly creative workshop with dialysis patients at Hammersmith Hospital. She is writing a weekly blog in response to her experiences.
Ever hopeful, I brought along some large sheets of paper, a thick cardboard support, and a black conte crayon taped to the tip of a long paintbrush. I was planning to ask Akosua if she’d like to use the crayon-cum-brush to make wide sweeping movements with her arm onto the paper which I’d hold against the card upright in front of her? Also tucked away in my rucksack were some Sudoku puzzles culled from several recent Evening Standards.
Akosua was sitting in bed awake, wearing earphones and reading The Metro. I greeted her, and she looked up, replying that she really didn’t want to do any art. I pulled out the stash of puzzles which she accepted gladly before wheeling my trolley to Olive.
Olive was ready to make a bookmark for her beloved granddaughter, Deyanah, who was celebrating a birthday soon. We agreed on using a creamy card and the words, ‘Deyanah, Love You, Grandma Fearon, March 2017’. Butterflies, hearts and flowers were chosen to adorn the words. We found the butterflies on the internet using my ipad, and the flowers on her bag lying nearby. What was Deyanah’s favourite colour? Purple. We wrote out the words using purple pen and coloured in the images with crayons carefully selecting pinks and blues and adding green pen to highlight some leaves. Completed and safely in a hard-backed envelope in her bag, Olive had a lovely present for her granddaughter.
I was surprised to see Josephine, thinking that she’d be absent today, and we had a quick chat. Please could I give her the drawing she’d made recently to take home? Releasing it from the frame in the waiting area, I popped it in her bag.
Michael had spent the morning painting a Venetian scene by Turner taken from one of his watercolour magazines and showed me his paint box full of colour pans. He felt that something wasn’t quite right with his picture and we studied it together carefully. Turner had painted a row of mooring poles in perspective to emphasise depth and introduce verticals to contrast with the horizontal bands of water and sky. We made the poles in Michael’s picture more defined and in perspective before turning our attention to a small mass of dark squiggles and lines in the foreground of Turner’s painting. Turner had added this mass to suggest scale and distance, and to enliven the composition with a human presence. But what was this dark bundle? After a while, we realised we were looking at a gondola and gondolier, indeed, several. Bravely attempting to add a few hasty marks to Michael’s watercolour, we hoped these would be read in a similar way. Then Michael showed me how to use a sponge to soften lines of paint to great effect.
Time was marching on and so I checked in with Akosua who’d completed all the Sudoku puzzles. Could I take them with me please?
As I put them away, I wondered tentatively if an artwork could possibly be made out of these discarded puzzles one future day.