From June 2009 to Janury 2010 I worked with Artlink /Functionsuite on a project based in the Medicine for the Elderly wards at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh .
Work coming out of that project was exhibited in the Pelican Gallery at the RIE from January 20th to March 31st , 2010.
The examples below are from a series of fifty word narratives (inspired by the ballads project) which were exhibited in multi coloured speech balloons on the gallery walls. I visited Wards 201 and 202 on several occasions and spoke to patients who were well enough to appreciate a chat. No notes were taken at the time. In the spirit of oral storytelling, the stories they told me or the contents of our conversations were recorded at a later date, sometimes a lot later. A selection were read in an interview broadcast on BBC Scotland's Radio Cafe.
A son visited his father every day. The family had left Sutherland at the time of the Clearances; they spoke Gaelic. He fed his father fruit yogurt from a spoon. The old man’s limbs beneath the covers were still. His eyes stared. The bones of his face were beyond speech.
Libby’s neighbour asked for her shoes. Libby said the smell of them keeps me awake at night. Her neighbour kidded on that she was affronted and they both laughed. I pushed a zimmer within easy reach. They’re our motors said Libby – hers is a Ferrari and mine’s a Ford Escort.
Dod maintained underground conveyor belts at Burghlee then Bilston Glen. One Monday he didn’t go in; him and his pal Jimmy Moffat had spent Sunday in the club drinking. Jimmy was killed that morning when the roof fell in. Dod never went back. He took a job with his brother.
Telling Tales 21 Jan – 31 March 2010 in the Pelican Gallery, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh – 51 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 4SA Highlights of recent Artlink Functionsuite activity on Medicine for the Elderly Wards at the RIE, including cartoons and drawings by Malcy Duff, creative writing from Dorothy Alexander and poetry by James Peers written while he was a patient on the wards.[Functionsuite is the arts programme run by Artlink across NHS Lothian hospitals, working with healthcare staff, patients and artists. If you would like to find out more or get involved please contact us on 0131 229 3555 / email@example.com]