Fay Ballard – Wednesday 31st 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.

Cindy Sherman, the acclaimed American artist, was on my mind when I found Deborah well rested and sitting up in bed. Last week she’d recalled childhood memories of dressing up and I’d suggested bringing in some props this week. I opened my rucksack full of hats, wigs, sunglasses and scarves and we spent a very happy time dressing up. We took selfies on my iPad, roaring with laughter as bits of silk and hairy wigs were discarded in exchange for hats and glasses. ‘Oh, you look like Vita Saville-West, Rita Hayworth, a formidable headmistress!’

After taking lots of photos, we reviewed them, giggling like a pair of naughty schoolchildren. Some we emailed to her niece, Vicky, a professional fashion blogger, and others were shared with the nurses and with Olive much to their amusement.

A quieter time followed when we sat together looking at and discussing the work of Cindy Sherman who intrigued Deborah. Sherman takes photographs of herself in a range of costumes, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress and model. Her photos comment on the stereotypical roles of women in the media, advertising and film. They often call attention to the objectification of women. I also thought about us using the selfie as our chosen medium today, given that Deborah didn’t own a computer, nor an iPhone.

Next week, I’ll bring in colour copies of some of the photos for Deborah to keep and for us to hang on the ward.

Michael had been asleep and woke as Deborah and I were packing everything away, and I left her to fall into a deep, sound sleep.

We reviewed Michael’s watercolour and decided to even out the tones and hues of the beach huts: the dark blue one had been too dominant, and the light blue hut lacked form: now there was unity and balance. We then tidied up some of the huts’ wonky lines and called it a day when his dialysis machine beeped to announce its completion.

Tina who was feeling very, very poorly and was suffering from a family bereavement. Such sadness. We talked for a while. ‘I’ll try and express some of my feelings in pictures next week’, she reflected, and I left her to rest.



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