North East Connected

Elderly artist’s wish comes true with debut exhibition


A WISH came true for a North Yorkshire care home resident when his water colour paintings were exhibited in an art gallery for the first time.

It was a “magical” moment for 74-year-old David Rigg when he first saw his masterpieces hanging from the walls at The Palace Hub in Redcar, which is run by Tees Valley Arts.

The resident from Hazelgrove Court Care Home, in Saltburn by the Sea, has painted as a hobby for many years but only started taking it seriously when he retired.

He said: “When I paint it transports me into another world and takes away all of my worries. It’s really magical seeing my paintings up in the gallery.”

David was one of nine residents from the care home to display their artworks at the gallery, including Betty Wood, 99, Joyce Baxtrem, 93, Ellen Else, 92, Ricky Wilson, 77, Mollie Wilkinson, 82, and Ted Howell 87.

They produced works in embroidery, photography, silk paintings and oils, among other formats, which were curated by the care home’s activities coordinator Sharon Lewis.

Betty, who has Parkinson’s disease and can no longer paint, displayed works she completed in her younger years. She said: “It’s so nice to see my paintings on display. I didn’t pick up a brush to paint silk till I was 60 but was amazed at what I could do with the colours.”

The exhibition took place as part of the NAPA Arts In Care Week, which aims to highlight the wellbeing benefits of arts, creativity and cultural engagement in care settings.

An arts and crafts team from The Palace Hub also visited the care home as part of the initiative, delivering a traditional rug making session. They brought a two-string loom specially made for the elderly residents to use, which mimicked designs dating back to the 18th century.

They used the device to produce colourful garlands to decorate the care home, which is part of a project supported by Borderlands Creative People and Places, a creative engagement programme supporting communities in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland.

Joan Johnson, 90, said: “It brought back memories of sitting round a coal fire with my grandma rag rugging.”

Judith Pearson, 79, said: “I cannot believe I’m using a two-stringed loom that was used in the 18th century. What an invention.”

Sheila O’Neill, 83, added: “I think the parents of today are missing out on rag rugging with their grandchildren. It used to be something that families would get together to do.”

Sharon, the care home’s activities coordinator, said: “David’s wish was to have his art in an exhibition. Art in Care Homes week and the Palace Hub gave us the opportunity to display not only David’s work but that of other Hazelgrove residents.

“The exhibition has meant that local community members were able to see the incredible art works made by our residents. It also reminded the residents of how creative they were and still have the ability to be.

“Working with Tees Valley Arts has been a wonderful experience for everyone.  Residents love the two-string loom and, while they have been rag rugging and making garlands, they have chatted about doing this when they were younger and with their own families.

“It’s been a great therapeutic experience; wonderful for their wellbeing and they really enjoyed learning new skills. Thank you so much to the team at Tees Valley Arts at Redcar Palace.”

The exhibition has now moved back to Hazelgrove Court Care Home, where staff and visitors are able to continue enjoying residents’ artworks.

James Beighton, from Tees Valley Arts, said: “We at Tees Valley Arts have loved welcoming the residents of Hazelgrove Court into our gallery space and in return being welcomed into their home.

“Our purpose at Tees Valley Arts is to support people from all walks of life in living a creative life.

“The range of artistic talents by residents of Hazelgrove Court are hugely impressive and it has been great to have the opportunity to bring those talents together through some rag rug making workshops, bringing this important part of our North East regional heritage back to life.”

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