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.
Deborah greeted me across the ward as her trolley was wheeled into position: ‘I’m much better today!’ she beamed. I was thrilled to see her looking so well after a terrible ordeal. When she called out, Michael and I were already absorbed in a drawing of Southwold in Suffolk and I looked up and replied: ‘Wonderful to have you back, lots of love!’
Michael wanted to follow up his last watercolour with another shoreline scene and we spent some time hunting for suitable images on the Ipad. His eye caught a view of Southwold and he set to work, drawing a row of buildings on the seashore, measuring proportions and assessing dimensions. The task was much harder than it first appeared and we welcomed Phoebe’s arrival at 11.45 am, tired after an hour and a half. And, goodness, it had whizzed by. Phoebe wanted to continue working on her charcoal portrait of Michael and it was a good moment to stop. We considered using Michael’s drawing as a preparatory sketch for a watercolour painting next week and I had already stretched a piece of smooth hot-pressed watercolour paper on board, ready to start.
I found Deborah sitting and laughing about her cheeky collages and Paul Hollywood’s nice tweet. I handed her a packet of Trebor Extra Strong Mints, bought in case her spirits needed raising. Deborah had been reading a copy of Metro, dreaming up saucy collages involving ward nurses, porters and cleaners all of whom she knew by name. A juicy hamburger would make a perfect bed; a glamorous shot of Rihanna’s body would be ideal for a nurse’s head.
Keen to cut images from Metro, her table soon became covered with paper flying from her scissors. Could I take some photos of staff? And she sent me off in various directions to snap away. Deborah combed the newspaper carefully returning to pages to double check an idea, scrutinising every detail. Nurses and porters came over to find out what she was planning. Laugher followed. The cuttings file was heaving by the time the clock struck one and I cleared up, us both delighted.
Michael and Deborah were so chuffed to learn that their works were among those selected by Imperial Health Charity to display at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea this week. The Charity has been chosen by the Fair as an official partner and given a complimentary display stand where patients’ works will hang.