The arts are so much more than just paintings to hang on walls.
Our greatest literature, visual art, music, theatre etc, are where we explore the mysteries of life. They are expressions of human culture, they contain our stories and longings, and help us to grapple with the big questions each of us sooner or later must confront-‘ Why am I here, what is the purpose of life, how do I cope with loss?’
When I was in my twenties, I heard about a clown who went into children’s burn wards. Wavy Gravy was his name,and through his performing (and kind heart) helped these patients forget for a second about their terrible injuries; my imagination was captured and I knew I wanted to somehow use my art in tandem with healing.
Many years later I joined a Dutch non profit which staged large art events in hospitals and nursing homes all over Holland. During the 15 years I worked with this organisation as an art/healthcare artist, I gravitated toward the locked psychiatric geriatric wards where little was being done to engage the people there. From that experience and a subsequent 5 years working weekly with people with dementia, I developed methods for using creativity to contact and engage people in all stages of the illness. This is documented and illustrated in my activity guide and creative manual for caregivers and families, Chocolate Rain, 100 ideas for a creative approach to activities in dementia care . I also give workshops to healthcare professionals in developing their creative skills for better communication and creative thinking on the job.