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Meeting Artist Luke Palmer

Arts Music & Play

Hospital News

We sat down with our artist in residence, Luke Palmer, to get the low down on all things ‘collaborative painting.’

Luke has been working with the adolescent patients of Apollo Ward and their families at Bristol Children's Hospital delivering his unique workshops as part of our diverse Arts Programme. Find out how he’s been helping bring families together through the power of creativity below.

Luke Palmer and patient

Libby and Luke get painting!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice…

I am an artist, photographer and lecturer from Bristol. You can usually find me working with young people from across the city. Whether it be in a community centre, as part of a youth service programme or Bristol Children’s Hospital, my ‘Collaborative Painting’ workshops aim to bring people together through the creative process.

Did you have a connection to Bristol Children’s Hospital prior to your workshops?

Seven years ago I had a little taste of what it was like to work with patients after completing a placement at Bristol Royal Infirmary. Not only was this extremely rewarding but it was great to see first-hand the benefits the arts can bring. Ever since I have hoped to work with patients again and it’s thanks to The Grand Appeal I have been given that opportunity.

What is ‘collaborative painting’?

Patients and their families simply paint together according to these guidelines:

- People work together in groups of between two and six

- One person is appointed to begin the painting

- Anyone else in the group can then join in and paint at any time

- Anyone can paint over anyone else’s work

- The painting process is done in complete silence

It amazes me that despite a number of people contributing to the painting it always ends up looking like the work of a single artist!

How has it felt bringing your workshops to Bristol Children’s Hospital in particular?

Facilitating collaborative painting sessions on Apollo Ward, where young people aged 11-16 are cared for, has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me and I think it might be some of the most important work I have ever done. The process of people working together on a creative activity, in close proximity to each other and in complete silence really does create a special space for making artwork. It truly has been an honour to be given the opportunity to work with young patients and their families on the ward.

How do you think it has benefitted young patients and their families?

Patients spend so much of their time confined to their rooms so having the chance to do something different and let loose with some paints alongside their parents, is something they tell me they are really grateful for. Apart from some much-needed escapism, I think the patients are excited at the prospect of working with a professional artist, using quality materials and knowing that their work will be on display in a gallery on Level 6 of the children’s hospital.

Can you tell us about the upcoming exhibition?

It’s still a work in progress but the show will be made up of eight artworks created by families during their workshops. I’m a firm believer that great art should be displayed well so I am delighted that the Level 6 corridor will be transformed into a proper gallery space with new lighting and noticeboards!

What’s been your highlight of working at the hospital?

The biggest highlight is simply being able to give young patients the chance to escape and explore, while getting creative with the ones they love.

What’s your favourite thing about Bristol?

Despite travelling a fair bit, Bristol is my home town and I’m never too far away. I love that Bristol embraces the different, celebrates creativity and is always doing something that surprises me... and that Bristol produces some of the best artists and musicians in the world!

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