This latest blog post is written by Kate Simms who runs Art View sessions at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. The sessions are for the general public of all ages, are dementia friendly and are designed to allow participants to have their own opinions on the art in front of them in a safe, accessible way. The discussions are open and inclusive without being biased by curatorial notes or the history behind the artist, Kate explains, before adding we end with tea and cake.
I decided to hold an Art View session on three of Laila’s spectacular artworks – Love and Passion, Cruelty but Hope and Prisoner of Life. It is a quite apprehensive process for me whilst the participants are settling themselves in their seats. I never know how the participants will react to the art or where the discussions will take us. This session comprised a range of people from people with dementia and their carers, new staff members of Pallant House Gallery, Cornelia Marland (Outside In exhibitions coordinator), and other members of the general public . In total there were 14 of us enjoying the Laila’s work.
With no information on, or background to the work, I was extremely delighted in what was being drawn from the pictures. The images raised narratives including ‘hope’, ‘Arabian symbols’, ‘trapped’, ‘being watched’, ‘wanting to escape’, ‘tree of life’, ‘dove of peace’ among others. The colours swayed their connection to the works and they all guessed correctly that the pictures were painted by a woman. To Cornelia’s and my utter delight, Prisoner of Life was explained by a participant who deciphered the narrative within Laila’s image exactly. I’d had to ban Cornelia from providing any explanations until the end; although I could see from her smiles that she was enjoying the discussions.
Cornelia spent time over tea and cake explaining Laila’s plight, and the difficulties in transporting the art from Gaza. Everyone was astounded with Laila’s story and how close their discussions had been to her intention behind it. This Art View on Laila’s art was one of the best discussions I have ever had the pleasure of facilitating. And I’ve been facilitating Art Views for several years now.
As an Outside In artist and ambassador, it was the perfect connection with Pallant House Gallery in my role as Art Views facilitator. I look forward to the next joint venture between Outside In and the gallery.
To find out more about the exhibition, click HERE
The next Art Views sessions are running on September 27 (1.30 – 3.30pm) and October 25 (1.30 – 3.30pm), find out more HERE