Fay Ballard – Wednesday 10th January 2018– Auchi Dialysis Unit, Hammersmith Hospital

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.

Welcome to the New Year! Today was my first visit of 2018 and I was keen to see everyone.

Michael was fast asleep and Olive focused on her word search puzzle (could there be an artwork in this?).

Her face lit up as I approached, the matriarch of the Ward. We exchanged family news: at Midnight Mass, the vicar had singled her out, blessing Olive and her two ‘princesses’ (her daughters), bringing tears to the family. Deyanah, her granddaughter, had made a special Christmas card, a touching reminder of the two cards Olive had created on the Ward last year for the eight-year old.

Deborah was sitting up looking well. We chatted for ages, laughing at her reminiscences of singing ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ very badly and very loudly on the night bus to cheer everyone up, encouraging fellow passengers to join in. We smiled and began singing:

‘These boots are made for walking

And that’s just what they’ll do

One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you’

Perhaps a sound artwork? We giggled at the collages made last year- where they just a bit subversive? What shall we do next week?

Irving was completing a crossword puzzle and hadn’t been well. We exchanged family news and talked about the richness of a long marriage. A conversation followed about anti-Semitism, tracing its origins to Hellenic Alexandria, before we explored the figure of Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and the rise of fascism in 1930s Britain. I wonder if Irving could write another essay for us when he feels stronger?

Cheryl was awake and we chatted about our families, her demanding cats and my naughty dogs. Her son had landed a good job at the high court and it was marvellous to hear all about it.

Tina greeted me with open arms and tales of family life. Her husband had found his lost 18 carat gold wedding ring amongst the onions and her son had secured a job at Carluccio’s, one of our favourite restaurants. Although in pain all over, she wanted to draw Donald Duck next week.

Aware that it was past noon, I went to find Michael who was stirring from a long morning sleep. We greeted each other warmly and caught up with news, about my son’s internship in California and his new grandchild. ‘Next week we are definitely going to make art!’ he exclaimed.

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