Bursledon Hospital Art Project

Artists Lisa Reeve and Charlotte Farhan are collaborating with Bursledon House hospice in Southampton on their latest exciting art project. Lisa and Charlotte are inspiring children with several and complex medical problems to create their own Personality Portraits! Lisa is one of ASLI’s first artists in residence.

Says Lisa on her experience:

“I am so proud to be working with ASLI. Not only is it a wonderful way to support and inspire a diverse variety of people and children to be creative, art can also help with emotional healing. I myself struggle with social anxiety, among many mental health problems, and using art as a form of self-expression is very therapeutic for me. Art can allow oneself to express turbulent inner emotions that can often be hard, or impossible, to explain in humble words. The children at Bursledon House are such strong, brave, amazing individuals and we are so lucky to have the chance to work with them on creating their own personality portraits. The staff and pupils have welcomed us with open arms and it is inspiring to see how a hospital school operates. The staff at Bursledon House are particularly lovely, caring and open-minded. Helping others is always good therapy for the soul: ‘If you light a lamp for somebody it will also brighten your path.’ (Buddhist quote!) Thank you to ASLI for giving me the opportunity to give opportunities to others.”

Bursledon House provides a lifeline to young kids and teenagers with severe, complex and chronic medical problems. Using a caringly structured programme of treatment in a relaxed, non-medical setting, Bursledom House supports, cares for and manages the treatment of its vulnerable young residents (aged 0-16). The NHS-run organisation places paramount importance on residents’ physical, psychological, educational and social needs.

Lisa and Charlotte were inspired to perform this project due to their own personal struggles with mental illness. They believe art has played a restorative, vitally important role in helping them manage Borderline Personality Disorder.

Institutions like Bursledon House are essential in providing structure and routine for sick and vulnerable young children and adolescents during a difficult, traumatic time of great need. This Art Saves Lives International project promotes holistic creative healing through art therapy. Each child is being encouraged and motivated to produce their very own ‘Personality Portrait’: an abstract style of portrait that reflects the inner core of a person: their energy, vitality and individuality, which forms their root personality.

Celebrating individuality is especially important for children who have perhaps already identified themselves as “sick children”. Art therapy takes children outside of their comfort zones and transient realities, helping them shape the futures they want.

Lisa is the project’s Official Photographer. As a skilled SFX make-up artist, Lisa is also relishing painting the children’s faces for drama, poetry and dance performances, as the photographs below beautifully illustrate.

The project, lasting several months, is leading to a public exhibition of the children’s personality portraits in July 2014. The exhibition will include talks about the work of Bursledon House, music, spoken word artists and an art auction.

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