Francis Creed’s wife, Alison, spent time at the hospice before dying in 2013 after suffering with cancer. Francis recalls how Alison remarked about the need for more artwork in the hospice: a wish that was fulfilled by their friends of 30 years.
The art produced, named Celebrations, is a mixed-media piece incorporating objects, photographs, notes and stories provided by hospice patients, families, staff and volunteers, based around themes inspired by the life and work of Alison, including sense of place, communication and celebration.
The work was officially presented to the hospice last month by award-winning art critic, historian, broadcaster and exhibition curator, Richard Cork.
Richard, who has been an art critic for publications such as The Times and the New Statesman, is also the author of The Healing Presence of Art: A History of Western Art in Hospitals, as well as advisor to the Maggie’s Centres for cancer care, making him a poignant figure to present the piece.
Richard said: “The artwork is magical. I came in here having seen photos of it, but knowing the moving background, but seeing the real thing on the wall remains a magical experience.”
He continued, “This is art at its best. There is a lot of sadness in the story behind it – the loss of dear Alison Creed – but I think we can say that the best way to mark a sad and tragic loss is to find something celebratory, and that’s what is happening here.”
He concluded, “The artists have given their best in a place where the best is clearly very important indeed.”
Lucy Nickson, chief executive of Ashgate Hospicecare, officially received the artwork on Friday. Lucy said, “Ashgate Hospicecare are delighted to receive this wonderful piece of artwork which sits magnificently in the hospice’s reception area. We are truly touched by the sentiment of the work, and regard the themes of sense of place, communication and celebration particularly poignant for a piece which greets all visitors, patients and staff as they enter the hospice. We believe that it is a legacy which will continue to provide intrigue and enjoyment for years to come.”
Adrienne Brown was director of Stockport Arts and Health (SAH), where she developed projects for and with people in Stockport’s health services and communities, and worked with architects and NHS Estates in the commissioning of artworks for new buildings. SAH evolved from the Spa Arts project at the former Devonshire Royal Hospital in Buxton. Alison Creed, who had returned to nursing as a bank nurse at the Devonshire, acted as a link between Spa Arts and patients, and subsequently was arts coordinator of the Buxton project when Adrienne’s work moved to Stockport. Alison later became a volunteer at SAH on a lottery funded project in which artists worked with older people to design and make a book, CD-Rom and touring exhibition, Lost Found Time.
Since retirement in 2006 Adrienne has concentrated on her own arts practice, combining textiles, embroidery, photography and photomontage. She is a member of Peak District Artisans, and her work has received several awards in the Buxton Festival Fringe.
Langley Brown has worked in the arts and health field since 1978, when he joined Manchester Hospital Arts (now Lime). He helped establish many participatory arts programmes for users of mental health services, beginning in Manchester when he and senior consultant psychiatrist Francis Creed established Start (Manchester) in the 1980s. Langley is currently Arts for Health Research Fellow at the Manchester School of Art at the city’s Metropolitan University, where he has gathered a collection of archives documenting the history of the arts and health movement across the country. In 2015 these archives will be transferred to the Wellcome Library in London, where over the next five years they will be catalogued before being made freely available to those wishing to study the history of the arts and health phenomenon.