A resident artist for health
Renowned poet, author and playwright Patrick Jones has recently undertaken an artistic residency at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales.
The residency sees Patrick work with the college on a series of commissioned works to promote the impact of art on well-being and mental health to the public and Welsh public services alike.
Patrick from Blackwood, has a rich history of involvement with arts and health projects, having most recently worked with The Forget Me Not Chorus (whose members are individuals living with Dementia) on the My Song My Story project. This work documented poems of members’ most precious songs and the stories behind them. Some further projects have been highlighted below.
Jones’ first undertaking in his residency #ThisIsMyTruthTellMeYours furthers work into Dementia, creating a series of spoken word features focussing on peoples lived experiences through cycles of song.
I believe the Arts can help develop self-confidence and self-esteem, positively affect the culture of hospitals and care units, improve staff and patient relationships and morale, improve social skills and give participants a chance to learn new skills. As Voltaire said many years ago, ‘Something to do - something to love - something to hope for.
It’s fantastic to be able to transfer what I know and what I’ve learned in creating this new program, and to those whom I’ve met over the years and been fortunate enough to collaborate with, get in touch, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be involved in such a positive programme.
This is where the Arts are paramount and a latent tool waiting to be used in the treatment of those living with Dementia. This project is a start upon the journey and hopefully will resonate throughout Mental Health networks.
Seeing people whose lives have been blighted by dementia ‘light up’ as they sing the songs of yesteryear is one of the most moving and life-affirming moments of my life. I wrote a play “Before I Leave”, produced by National Theatre Wales, about which is being adapted into a film. It is a story that needs to be told.
A few selected projects
My song, my story
a collaboration with The Forget Me Not Chorus
The Forget-me-not Chorus is a truly inspirational charity that uses the power of song to bring joy to people with dementia and their families.
The Forget Me Not Chorus, as part of the Arts Council of Wales “Get Creative” initiative, held a series a moving and life-affirming exhibitions of their work at Penarth pavilion.
Working with Patrick, over 120 choristers have explored their special song and the story behind it. With powerful images accompanying emotive poetry, the My Song, My Story exhibition celebrates the unique ability of song to enhance and enrich all our lives.
A book, celebrating this work is available through Parthian Books.
Before i leave
a collaboration with National Theatre Wales
Before I Leave was inspired by Patrick’s work with the Cwm Taf choir in Merthyr. Its members have shared much of their time and experiences with Patrick, helping to write a play that is both a celebration of the restorative, co-operative joys of choir singing and a call to arms for a renewed sense of collective responsibility. Touching on the current, urgent calls for better mental health care as well as battles as far back as the miners’ strike, this angry but ultimately heartwarming production wears its politics on its sleeves, but marches to the beat of some of our best-loved songs.
★★★★ “Joyous drama about reality of dementia” THE GUARDIAN
Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales
Artist in Residence
On the announcement of his residency, Patrick was featured by BBC Wales Today to talk about the links between art and mental health, as well as aspirations for the partnership.
Whilst early in the residency, Patrick has delivered exploratory, creative writing workshops with clinicians and has also presented at the joint Royal College of Psychiatrists and Welsh Psychiatric Society joint winter conference ‘the future of psychiatry’.