Recently, a big supporter of GINA Gallery living in the UK decided to make a gift of three naïve artworks to the Alder-Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Happy to help make it happen, GINA Gallery provided the works at an unprecedented discount. Initially I thought that this purchase would serve to beautify the children’s wing. However, shortly after the artworks arrived at the hospital, I received a heartwarming message from the hospital’s arts coordinator. Referring to the paintings she wrote:
“They are an absolutely wonderful addition to our arts for health programe. Our resident storyteller has been working with our patients, using the paintings to inspire new stories and memories,and we found that children have really enjoyed looking at the art and engaging with it. They’ve been a great distraction from hospital life and it’s always so pleasing to see children smiling and enjoying doing something creative.”
A few weeks later I traveled to Liverpool to visit Alder-Hey and to observe first-hand the interaction between the paintings and the children. Youngsters undergoing dialysis and chemotherapy as well as those awaiting or recovering from surgery were participating in mini-workshops designed to stimulate the imagination, promote sharing of feelings and encouraging positive thinking. They eagerly responded to prompts from the counselor working with them, pointed to the characters and elaborated on the narrative before them.
GINA Gallery is working on deepening our connection with Alder-Hey by arranging for a naïve artist to visit the hospital and conduct a three-session painting workshop with the children. At that same time, I plan to talk personally with them about the world of naïve art.
This unexpected and welcome experience opened my eyes to the power of naïve art to not only decorate and beautify our homes, but to spread well-being and happiness to the wider community. How wonderful it would be if others took it upon themselves to initiate similar projects in local institutions that are near and dear to their hearts.