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.
‘Vuoi comprare i miei meloni!’ Concerttina sang, inspired by her Italian fruit and vegetable truck drawing which we were showing to her carer. She proceeded to colour in the truck using brilliant yellow paint, recalling the sounds of sellers in Naples singing: ‘Do you want to buy my melons!’
‘Now I want to draw a horse and a rainbow!’ She took a pencil as we chatted about her week and Antonio Carluccio who died recently. Her vegetable truck would be dedicated to him. ‘Will you display the vegetable truck in the entrance area please!’
The racing horse and jockey were not to her liking, and she began another drawing in coloured crayon concentrating on the head of a horse with a bushy mane. Next, she painted a Christmas tree full of light and colour which we hope to display on the ward next week.
After a good session, Concerttina’s hands and eyes were tired, and we agreed to rest, knowing that the morning had whizzed by. And painting had taken her mind off the pain of her legs and feet.
Olive was beaming and asked for my reaction to the Royal Wedding. ‘Marvellous, SO exciting!’ We both agreed, hopelessly romantic and thrilled for the happy couple. ‘If the wedding takes place on a Wednesday morning, we’ll watch it together on the ward and Deborah can design the bunting!’ Deborah laughed: ‘And I’ll design my very own fascinator!’, as she pretended to model a glamorous headpiece.
I handed Deborah a couple more photos of staff members for the collage and we caught the giggles subjecting their innocent faces to various body parts and poses culled from newspapers and magazines. The ward cleaner came over to talk, much enjoying her collaged face now enveloped by a head of glamorous hair which concealed her nylon cap. We chatted about our daughters, both of whom have thick locks and reminisced about our youthful long, full hair.
Michael was awake, a little tired but keen to paint. By the time I returned with brushes, pots and paints, he had found enough energy to continue with his detailed watercolour. We worked together on one of the buildings in the picture, cleaning the edges of vertical and horizontal lines by removing colour. And we created light lines on the façade of another beach building. I left him happy to work on his own, patiently attentive to every detail, and returned to clear up with eight minutes of dialysis remaining. We sat and chatted about his baby grandson, Brexit, the Vice-Chancellor of Bath’s salary and the Royal Wedding.
As I left, I waved to Irving and saw that Cheryl was still sleeping.