With several talented artists living at the home and strong interest in all things artistic among the residents, the team at Care UK’s Sherwood Grange recently offered a very different kind of care home activity.
Led by a professional tutor and making use of an experienced model more used to posing for professional artists, the team hosted a life drawing class with every sinew and muscle on display for residents to sketch.
At Sherwood Grange, residents are empowered to take up any activities they enjoy. They are no strangers to artistic endeavours having already taken a trip to France to enjoy sketching and watercolour painting by a lake and there have been several (clothed) life drawing classes in the home and at the nearby Dorich House Museum. So when residents asked for the opportunity to draw a nude model, the team immediately set to work to organise one.
Residents were asked what kind of model they preferred, and almost unanimously landed on a ‘nice handsome man’. A professional model – more used to working in artist’s studios – and meeting the residents’ criteria, was employed for the afternoon to allow residents to get in touch with their creative side and bring his nude form to life. As part of the session, the residents at the home were given expert tuition from professional artist Robin Rutherford who teaches life drawing in a number of locations. A glass of sparkling wine helped add to the sense of occasion.
The unusual activity took place to mark the end of a month-long festival that Care UK has sponsored, The Big Draw, which promotes drawing as a tool for learning, expression and invention. More than 60 of Care UK’s homes have taken part and, as the team and residents at Sherwood Grange have a special love for painting and drawing, it made sense for them to do something memorable to mark the end of the Big Draw festival.
Residents were full of praise for the art session, Mollie Wheeldon said: “I spent my life interested in art – painting landscapes and I always wanted to draw from a nude model and never got round to doing it. It was a really interesting experience, I think we did our best”.
Barry Summers who took a very abstract approach to his sketches said: “I don’t think anybody entering a care home anticipates doing a life drawing class but it was a good atmosphere and the group weren’t too distracted by a male nude, they took it seriously with a good heart and lots of joviality. I found it gave me the ammunition to let me mind go free and create.”
Marion Nevil said: “I always loved art at school and when I left age 16years to go into pre-student nursing I didn’t have much time because of the long hours but I tried to keep my hand in. I appreciate good art and always found I was looking at books & drawing from them. I was very proud of my drawing as I find the human body a challenge, so this opportunity was a great experience for me.”
Rick Mayne, home manager at Sherwood Grange, said: “Most people expect life in a care home to be a certain way – but here at Sherwood Grange we’re keen to ensure that there are no limitations and every day can be different and fun. Life in our care home is all about helping people to enjoy more independent and fulfilling lives – and today that meant expanding people’s experiences and doing something out of the ordinary.
“It’s fair to say we’ve never had a nude model at the home before – but based on the response we may well do again!
Robin Rutherford, artist, said: “I found the residents and team members at Sherwood Grange to be really welcoming and it was a privilege to work with a group of open minded people keen for new artistic experiences.”