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 was sitting in bed cutting up ‘Metro’, ‘Hello’, ‘Grazia’ and a pile of other magazines when I arrived. She was exuberant and eager to receive her unfinished collages, Pritt Stick, cuttings folder and spare paper. I also handed over some more colour photocopies of several staff members she’d asked me to photograph a fortnight ago. Within seconds, her bed and table were covered in cuttings and I fetched another bed table to spread out the work. Laughing and joking with Deborah, a group of nurses gathered to inspect the new collages of Godfrey and Connor, two ward assistants, who’d been transformed into celebrity dogs.
‘Umm’, Deborah said, ‘I think we need a picture of Donald Trump in high heels… Oh, that photo of Rihanna will do very nicely….yes, that dachshund will come in useful….’ ‘Please could you take a photo of the doctor over there, I don’t have him yet…I’d be very grateful if you would….’ And so it went on happily all morning as Deborah completed the two collages and made a third.
Just before one o’ clock, we cleared up the piles covering her lap and I picked up the discarded fragments off the floor. Sipping a frothy cappuccino from Costa, my final errand for the morning, Deborah and I chatted about her former work with teenagers whom she’d encouraged to make collages at a youth centre on Friday nights. Before leaving, she looked at my iPad photos of the Affordable Art Fair Imperial Health Charity stand, showing her framed collage, pleased to hear all about it.
Olive was on good form, too. We chatted, catching up with news, and then I went to find Michael. He’d brought in his drawing and we discussed the next plan of action, a tracing. I’d stretched some hot pressed watercolour paper onto a piece of board to prevent it from warping, and we worked slowly and methodically on the tracing. After an hour or so, it was finally complete ready for Michael to begin painting at home. To my dismay, I realised the finished tracing was in reverse. Michael didn’t mind but I promised to bring in a correct one next week.