‘Sampling Sessions’ – Carolyn Morton at Choices Housing, Limewood

The ‘Sampling Sessions’ residency was 6 months of weekly visits by artist Carolyn Morton. She worked with Limewoods’ residents making images and conversation. Using a wide range of materials and processes helped her to respond to individuals’ interests and engage them in making. Sometimes they made together. Sometimes examples or demonstrations guided what they did. Sometimes how and what residents made showed Carolyn a new way of making.

The one constant was being absorbed in making something meaningful and each others’ company.

The residency was part of ‘Still Lively’ a programme to support and value older peoples’ creativity. It was funded by Choices Housing Association. Around the table someone is humming ‘Abide with Me’. As the tune repeats I join in, watching the resident who’s hunched over the table, absorbed in drawing a delicate frill of brown lines inside the edge of an outlined feather.

“I don’t like that bit” she says to herself, looking at a smudge. I offer to erase it and hold the drawing up for us to see.
“Oh that’s lovely. Who did that?”
“You did”
“Did I? It’s lovely”

Unrolling last weeks painting I suggest adding another layer. Selecting one of his colouring books the resident I’m working with turns the pages stopping at a pattern of alliums. “These.” We talk about composition, how the colours and shapes lead our eyes across the paper. He decides on a cluster of alliums in the lower corner, carefully mixing blue and red to the same shade of burgundy as his original colouring.

I sit beside a resident who apologises for not being able to do anything this week as he’s not feeling well. Reassuring him that it’s fine to just chat I begin to draw around a roll of tape. With encouragement and reassurance he joins in, anxiety fading as he concentrates on the task in hand.

“I’m sorry they’re not very good”
“They look good to me. You’re doing your best and that’s all any of us can do”

Last week we made a piece of felt. This week we appliqué felt shapes. I show the resident I’m working with some paper butterflies and she begins to copy them, adding flowers and a house. Her stitching is neat, competent and quick.

“Whose lives there?”
“Henry. It’s Henry’s garden”. With pink felt and a few swift lines Henry’s face is added.

Carolyn worked with: Miriam, Doreen, Maureen, Baz, Ron, Reg, Rita, Cynthia, Derek, Tony, Gladys, Anna, Colin,William, Margaret.

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