Art in the Wards

A little distraction and legacy-making — that’s how Timothy Talty, the Art Program Manager at Sydney Children’s Hospital, is using his program to help unwell children cope with their discomfort.

In an interview with 2SER, Timothy talks about the solid art program that’s taking place in the hospital. You can expect to see an art-gallery-like exhibition with number of art spaces across the busy corridor of hospital, rotating every 12 weeks. With over 25 exhibitions, the program features range of fellow artists, mini groups, organizations, and most importantly, the projects that are specially designed and delivered for patients and their family.

“We tried to create an atmosphere of meaningful creative expression”

The designed projects are about creating special workshops for patients to participate, known as ArtEx (Art Experience). In ArtEx, staffs will be focusing on teaching creative technique and skills in the workshop. Some of the skills teach and encourage painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, creative writing, performance, and more where children are given the freedom to use them in ways they want, along with their siblings and parents.

Timothy also mentions that there has been positive feedbacks on how kids enjoy the creative process. Apart from it being able to give a self-soothing therapy, they are really happy and proud of what they’re able to produce. Though the initial intention is to distract young adolescents from feeling pain or discomfort, ArtEx has become the key platform for the young patients not only for creative expression, but also for meaningful memories.

One of the special projects that Sydney Children’s Hospital holds every year is called A Little Piece of Me; a collaborative project between the hospital’s Palliative Care team and Andrew Christie, the artist who came up with the concept.

The Paediatric Palliative Care teams provide compassion-specialised care to children and adolescents who have life-limiting illnesses. Part of the care includes legacy and memory making projects which may play vital role for the patients and the families. A Little Piece of Me celebrates the many influences — people, places, things— that shape the identities of the children as who they are today by creating a pixel portrait through patient’s curated photos.

Parents can submit up to 50-100 photos and let the Artist, Andrew, produce a wonderful photographic mosaic which forms a portrait of the child. This allows individuals with disabilities, illness, or injuries to tell their stories in their own way. Although with the pandemic going on now, they have also gone virtual to reach more kids either in the hospital or at the community.

The program is fully funded and supported by Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation since 2021. Check out Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation to have the latest updates and opportunities to participate in the exhibition programs and help improve the hospital environment through your artworks.

For more information, listen to the interview with Timothy here.

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