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have had to go out the window. l'd imagined that we could use the grounds and that we would probably go out a lot more. but I hadn‘t realised how anxious people were going to feel even coming up to the studio. which is about a mile away from the rest ofthe hospital. let alone going out. There is a group which I do take out. but some ofthe drugs they take make them light-sensitive which is a problem.‘
; The work the patients have done so
far. ranges from intricate mosaics to i models ol the Beatles and is. until 20 April. on show alongside (,‘attrell's i work at Edinburgh‘s (‘hessel l Gallery. But the value ofthe j workshops is not just in the chance to I create something. ‘It‘sa different
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FROM 'riii-z AU'I‘IIOR oi:
kind of territory. very different. very messy compared to the rest of the hospital which is clean and hygienic.‘ Cattrell explains. ‘Hopefully it‘s somewhere where they can be what they want to be — somewhere they find quietness and reassurance. away from the wards which can be quite noisy and hectic.’
Fora patient to feel secure enough to leave the ward and attend one of the art workshops. takes a certain amount ofseIf-confidence in itself. so the chances are that. besides enjoying themselves. some long-term good is done. Even so. ; Cattrell is unwilling to quantify the psychological benefit ofthe workshops. ‘It’s very hard to judge.‘ she admits. ‘One or two have become a bit more articulate and
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willing to communicate. One ofthe chaps who comes very regularly said he felt as if the art workshop was
good enough to cat. which was quite
a compliment. Somebody else said that I was an anchor for him. which is I very ﬂattering. but at the same time 5 it‘s a responsibility. I try and say. ; “you know the next person who comes along may be more interesting 1 and might have different things to do." and I‘ve always made them aware ofthe fact that I'm going.’
And miracle cures? ‘I couldn‘t really say anything
about that. because the people that I '
atn working with have been there for
a very long time — 30 or 40 years in
some cases — and some of them
became ill at a time when there were
no methods ofsedation. I‘m not suggesting that everybody should be sedated. but I think there are times i when people suffering from acute I anxiety need a break. Perhaps I i could speak more clearly about it if I were working with people who had just come into hospital. but these people are very institutionalised.
‘I do think that it‘s an activity that they can remember. and which helps them delve into their past lives. And hopefully it gives people a bit more self worth. it makes something real. | All I know is that we‘ve had a good ; time and that'sjust as enhancing from my point ofview as theirs. I i come away feeling good about it.
Cattrell‘s own work has inevitably ! been inﬂuenced by the experience. ‘When I first started I had absolutely
no idea what to do in that kind of environment. I think you can become political and start lobbying on behalfofpeople with psychiatric problems and then. as time goes on. they become your friends. I reacted to the circumstance by building day by day and finding out information and trying to place things and become aware ofwhat I could do. what was expected of me and what I was willing to do. Anyway I began thinking ofthings which were interlinked and started making this chain mail on a very small scale which grew and grew and grew.’
No one can give an easy endorsement ofthe value ofart therapy in every case — there is always the possibility that it might have an inhibitive effect or might even stir up negative emotions. But what can certainly be said in the case ofAnnie Cattrell‘s group is that art is only a small part of the equation; if nothing else. the patients are benefiting by switching offtheir televisions. leaving the hospital environment and overcoming the fear of trying something new. And that in itselfcan be a tremendous boost for a battered morale.
Annie Cattrell and patients from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital will be exhibiting works in the Chessell Gallery, Moray House. Edinburgh, until Sat 20 April. when Annie Cattrell will be available to discuss her work.
A R TL INK is based at 130 Spinal Street. Edinburgh
BODY & SOUL
Psychotherapist and Author will be reading from her new book
THE EYE OF THE BUDDHA
AND OTHER THERAPEUTIC TALES (THE WOMEN'S PRESS £6.95)
In Stockbridge Library (opposite Body & Soul) On Wednesday 24th April from 6.30pm to 8pm All Welcome. Refreshments will be served.
HOLISTIC SPIRITUAL C R E E N SOMATIC GROWTH B O O K S
52 HAMILTON RACE ENNBURCHRﬂSAX Id: 031 226 $66