Our Blog

Art is for everyone

by Elaine Ford, Activities Co-ordinator

Art is a big part of who we are at Chestnut Tree House.

Like everything we do, it is child-led and person-centred. We know all the children and young people so well that we can plan activities based on their abilities and preferences. Some of our children love sensory play, which means we seek out new textures and experiences for them – using materials such as foam, water beads and wool. Others have themes they would like to explore. When a family was using the Stars bereavement suite here at the House recently, the sisters of the little girl who died created some beautiful images of fairies and magic.

A box of colourful paints

Opening doors

When a child or young person comes to Chestnut Tree House, they might be nervous about what to expect. Sometimes, art can open a door. Recently, a 14-year-old lad joined us for the first time. He was feeling very shy, so we started exploring the art materials. He selected a canvas and some acrylic paints and began sweeping black paint across the canvas. There wasn’t enough to cover it completely, but he said that didn’t matter. Then, he used some printing blocks and some different-coloured paints to create some very realistic bubbles. The whole thing is very effective, and most importantly it helped him to relax and settle in. Thanks to him, we have also been able to explore similar work with other young people.

Image of a painting of realistic bubbles

Everyday inspiration

Sometimes, young people come with a very specific idea of what they would like to do. Recently, one of our teenagers decided to create some artwork based around jars. First, we crushed some coloured chalk and mixed it with sand. She said bashing the chalk with a rolling pin was very therapeutic! The mixture creates attractive patterns when it’s poured into jars. She then found inspiration on Pinterest for a miniature fairy garden, which we created together from moss and artificial flowers.

A jam jar full of arty things!

Embracing the moment

While we always aim to be responsive to what the children want to do on the day, we do also enjoy long-running projects on themes such as Black History Month, kindness and Pride. Recently, we decided that the displays in the public areas of the House would be wholly based around the work of our children and young people. Having their creations on display reminds them that they are an important part of Chestnut Tree House.

Lots of children like to take home the artwork they have worked on while they’re here too. Some of it makes beautiful keepsakes. One activity that is always popular is marbling paper. We add oil-based inks to water where it forms bubbles, then swirl the different colours, and dip the paper. Each one is unique, with a never-to-be-repeated pattern representing a particular point in time. It’s very much what children’s hospice care is about – celebrating our differences and living in the moment.

Image of a drawing and drawing utensils.