Art is an oasis

  • by Kate Bowman
  • January 10, 2023

Patients at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Gloucestershire came together to showcase and celebrate their artistic creations, lovingly made with the support of volunteers during a unique two-month project with Paintings in Hospitals.

The Paintings in Hospitals OASIS Project, which uses art to inspire wellbeing, was launched at the Cheltenham-based hospice in August giving patients the skills and materials to make their own art through a series of creative workshops supported by their Sue Ryder volunteer befrienders.

One of the patients who benefitted was Joan Henly from Cheltenham. She said, “Some of the paintings we studied really matched my mood and I felt there were so many stories that I could imagine about the piece of art in front of me. And when I picked up the paint brush I really lost myself in painting.”

Another patient who took part in the pilot project was Steph Brooks, from Gloucester. She said, “There was something really ‘freeing’ to paint something from memory. This whole project has really helped me unlock my imagination – I had no imagination before but I do now! I really surprised myself.

“I know I speak on behalf of all the patients involved in the OASIS Project when I say how grateful we are for the support of our volunteers and Paintings in Hospitals. My life would not be like it is now if Sue Ryder wasn’t there.”

Patients from Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, living with cancer or neurological conditions, were given a pack of art materials from sketchbooks to watercolour paints, pastels and collage items.

Over a 12-week period, supported by their 1-2-1 volunteer befrienders, patients were invited to interpret specifically selected artworks from Paintings in Hospitals National art collection, which were sent directly to their home, to stimulate discussion and inspire their own creative responses.

Supporting Joan was Sue Ryder volunteer, Carole Foley from Cheltenham. She said, “I am not artistic at all and only signed up to be part of the project as I was told we didn’t need to be artistic. I have not picked up a pencil or paintbrush since school but now I find I can’t wait to paint and I have even spread my new-found love of art to my daughter and grandson! The whole project has been hugely beneficial to me and it has been humbling to see what a positive impact it has had on Joan.”

During the project over 60 pieces pieces of art were created by Sue Ryder patients ranging from sketches of elephants, painting a garden gnome, 3-D collage, watercolour, pastel and crayon paintings celebrating the colours and textures of nature and commemorating the passing of the Queen in September, to colourful abstract paintings, painting with willow branches instead of a brush and making and decorating a papier mache bowl.

Dominic Harbour, from Paintings for Hospitals said,

Looking at and making art can benefit our mental and physical wellbeing in a huge number of ways; bringing people together, helping people stay healthier and happier for longer, stimulating minds and boosting concentration, relieving stress and anxiety and boosting self-esteem while creating a sense of accomplishment.”

“It has been an absolute pleasure to speak to patients and volunteers at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, where so many of these brilliant benefits have been so evident throughout the project, while viewing the spectacular artwork created.”

Patricia Fleming is Befriending Coordinator at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, and supported patients and their volunteer befrienders during the project. She said “Feedback from our patients on the project has been resoundingly positive. One patient shared how ‘Art offers a form of escapism, a time when you can forget about what might be ailing you for just a short while. This gives an almost mystical courage to face the future.’

“Our volunteer befrienders have heaped praise on the project too. One of our volunteers shared, ‘I have watched patients gaining in confidence as the sessions progressed. It’s been a privilege to share a wide and varied insight into their world, their life, and their expression of this through our art sessions. I’ve learned a lot about art and love of life whilst observing and being with the patients.’

“We’d like to thank our patients, our volunteers and Paintings in Hospitals for making this project happen and for sharing their experiences, and beautiful artwork, with us.”

Following the project’s success Sue Ryder is now seeking future funding to expand the Oasis Project into Sue Ryder hospices and hubs across the country, bringing a wellbeing boost to more people living with a life-limiting condition.

Bluebell Valentine, Sue Ryder’s Volunteering Manager added, “There is something quite vulnerable about being creative and I am so grateful to our volunteers for sharing their emotions as well as their time and skills to make this project such a success. We are so grateful to our patients here in Gloucestershire for agreeing to be the first to take part in this pioneering project. With funding, we hope we can spread the joy of art, discussion and companionship to many more of our patients in Sue Ryder hospices and hubs across the country.”

For more information on Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice visit

For more information on Paintings in Hospitals visit Paintings in Hospitals | art for health and wellbeing

Read the full article in eHospice by clicking here.

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