Last night I attended my first social evening at the Richmond Carers Centre which also happened to be the first exhibition of works by the Centre’s Art Group. Cornelia Eberhardt, a highly skilled artist and tutor working for Richmond Adult Community College has been assisting Carol, Barry and Rachid for the last two weeks with preparing their work for display. Her knowledge and experience has been a huge benefit to the group and they all expressed quite passionately the gratitude they felt towards her as we gathered at the beginning of the evening.
The group meet every Friday morning and its longest serving member Carol has been attending for ten years. Carol works in a number of mediums and had some education in art during her teens. Her exhibition pieces included painting using relief and 3D cube structures with painted surfaces depicting aspects of her caring role. One artist that has recently inspired Carol was Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor. The group created a number of ‘Chihulies’ from tissue paper and wire. She describes the Richmond Carers Centre Art Group as ‘an anchor’.
“It actually gives me a chance to get away from my role as a carer which is not a 9-5 job, Monday to Friday, its seven days a week 24-7 and this helps me relax.” Many of the paintings exhibited by Barry were inspired by Lowry following a trip to the Tate Britain in September with the Richmond Carers Centre Culture Club. It is his ambition to have his work exhibited in a recognised art gallery.
Painting has long been considered a form of meditation and Cornelia described to me the importance of removing all barriers when using art as a therapy. She explained that we are so shaped by our perceptions that our ability can be inhibited by what we consider to be good art or bad art. We create barriers as we grow up, barriers that we didn't have as children.
“There is no right or wrong with art” Cornelia told me the day before the exhibition and Barry echoed this sentiment on the night, telling me with great conviction that “it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks as long as you like them.”