The project forms part of a collaboration between Shrewsbury School, Sabrina House Care Home and Creative Inspiration Shropshire, a social venture established to provide participatory creative arts programmes for vulnerable and isolated people in the local community.
‘I had been wanting to do some activity with Shrewsbury School students which takes art into the community,’ explained Mrs Shawe-Taylor, ‘and Jane Povey’s initiative proved to be the perfect opportunity.’
‘The planning stage was the difficult part; how to incorporate a diverse range of memories into a coherent whole. Then one of our students came up with the idea of a series of windows, rather like an advent calendar, and after that the design was straightforward.’
‘Part of the fun was hearing the residents talk about their memories – from racing pigeons to driving a double-decker bus, and chatting to the lovely staff who made us endless cups of tea. I only wish that Dan, who was at Sabrina longer than any other resident, had lived to see the finished result.’
Sabrina House Care Home
‘Having the students from Shrewsbury School visit Sabrina House has enriched the residents’ lives immensely,’ said the staff at the care home. ‘Those residents who are not able to socialise outside of the home can become somewhat isolated from the outside world. So having the girls and boys visit gives them the opportunity to interact with people from outside, which is particularly important for those residents who don’t have family and friends who visit.
‘It has been lovely to see the artists interact with the residents. Right from the first day when the artists were asking residents what they would like the mural to look like, it was plain to see a bond forming. The students showed a real empathy, far beyond their years, which was obvious to all of us looking on.
‘The mural has become a talking point, especially when visitors see it. The residents take great pleasure in pointing out the various sections and chat about something in it they may be personal to them.’
Giving back to the community
‘Being a part of this life-changing experience was not only a privilege but it was also an honour to give back to the community,’ said lower sixth former Nifemi Runsewe. ‘Socialising with the elderly and the carers at Sabrina House was a key aspect of painting the mural. Not only were we able to ask the elderly people at the care home what memory of theirs they would like us to reflect on the mural, but we also got to know a bit more about them and their lives. So we were able to create a mural that was done with love, as art is the moment where work meets love.
‘The mural also brought us students a lot closer together. This project enabled me to feel a part of something. It was a lot bigger than an average school project and I made friends that I am sure to keep for years to come.
‘At the end of the day, seeing the smiles on the faces of the elderly as they recognised which painting was dedicated to them was the icing on the cake because happiness is not from what we get, but what we give.’
The mural project forms part of a wider collaborative programme between Shrewsbury School, Creative Inspiration Shropshire and care homes in Shrewsbury. The school has also included concerts, sing-alongs and an afternoon tea party for guests from Sabrina House and Swan Hill care homes.
‘We have greatly valued the contribution the Shrewsbury School students have made this year in enriching the lives of residents and staff at local care homes,’ said Dr Jane Povey, Creative Inspiration Shropshire’s founding sirector. ‘The beautiful mural at Sabrina House marks the end of a fantastic first year of collaborative work with musicians, artists and chefs from the school.’