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.
The watercolour was lying by Michael’s side as he slept. Perhaps he’d arrived hoping to start painting and had been overcome by tiredness.
I fetched the art trolley for Deborah and greeted Concerttina who smiled warmly, enthusiastic to paint a rainbow. ‘I’m going to use lime green!’ She proceeded to load a brush with watercolour and made a series of arches. ‘Now a boat in pink!’ ‘It looks like cassata!’ she chuckled, and thoughts of delicious Italian ice cream studded with mixed peel flooded our senses. ‘Now a bright blue sea’, and she dipped her brush in Cerulean blue and made a wavy line.
She began to sing and I joined in, delighting in her soft melody of ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ by Carole King, followed by the Carpenters’ ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’. She paused and giggled. ‘I’m going to add the sun in bright yellow!’ Her thoughts turned to Naples, near her family home. ‘I did military service there and I need a red poppy.’ Suddenly, her face was drained of good cheer, and I promised to bring her one next week, prompting more song, now opera. ‘I love Andrea Bocelli!’ she exclaimed, her happiness restored. ‘When I get a new kidney, I’ll be able to travel and see my family. I miss them: Salvatore, Leonardo and Beata’.
We waited for the picture to dry and then popped it into an envelope containing her previous watercolours ready to take home. I shared photos of the recent display at AAF and close-ups of her two framed watercolours, ‘Parrot’ and ‘Donald Duck’. Delighted to see them on public view, she also enjoyed seeing her Pinocchio picture displayed at the Auchi Ward entrance. ‘Oh, I loved that, I feel so much better’. And I left her resting quietly.
Meanwhile, Deborah was in full swing adding to her collage and laughing all the way, her bed and two bed tables covered in newspaper cuttings. The collages were getting bigger and bigger as more characters were added. An order for a cappuccino with chocolate and one demerara sugar fortified her handiwork. Then, following her instructions, I lent a hand cutting up and sticking newsprint to photocopies of staff. Doctors, nurses, drivers and cleaners stopped to enjoy them, chatting with Deborah as they spotted themselves and others. I asked if she fancied being in the collage herself, recalling Hitchcock taking minor parts in his films, and took several photos of her for next time.
‘Please could you display all three collages in the entrance area for everyone to enjoy’, she requested.
Nearing lunchtime, I chatted with Jatinder, curious to know the inspiration for his calm peace of mind and happiness. Michael stirred and opened his eyes and we spoke a little before his machine completed its task for the morning. He’d been blessed with a second grandchild born a few days ago and was beaming.