A group of local artists donated artwork to adorn the walls of retirement homes throughout the Elk Valley, brightening the spirits of residents self isolating during the pandemic.
The heartwarming initiative was kicked off by Kathleen Stead, a local Fernie artist who read an article about a similar project taking place in Toronto. According to Stead, the pandemic has been especially hard on those in care homes, who have spent months isolating from their loved ones as well as each other. Considering the feelings of her own friends residing in care homes, Stead felt that collecting artwork to decorate retirement homes would help make their rooms cozier, happier places.
Reaching out to artists from both The Arts Station’s Visual Arts Guild and the Fernie Arts Co-op, Stead received pieces from a total of 18 artists. Since late May, she has hung a total of five paintings at Trinity Lodge retirement home in Fernie, five paintings at Tom Uphill Manor in Fernie, and 12 paintings at Lilac Terrace in Sparwood. Stead still has eight paintings left to donate, which she hopes to send to Rocky Mountain Village in Fernie.
“It’s a tough time, this pandemic affects everyone, but I can’t imagine living in a seniors home without any contact and having to self isolate,” said Stead. “It must be so difficult for them. So that’s why I thought that if they had something on their walls that brightens their day, it would be a great idea.”
To accommodate for distancing measures, each artist bagged up their paintings so they could be delivered in a socially distant manner. Included with each painting was a short biography and photo of each artist, allowing the residents to learn about where each piece came from.
According to Stead, administrative staff and residents have expressed gratitude for the donations, saying the pieces have not only added vibrancy to walls, but more importantly have helped make everyone feel less alone.
After months of spreading joy through art, Stead would like to extend a wholehearted thank you to the artists that donated pieces, including Jean Marchi, Laura Bentley, Ann Regular, Anne Majic, Alice Byrne, and Sue Hanlon whose pieces are brightening the rooms and common spaces at Lilac Terrace. She would also like to thank Cathy Hopland, Anne Aitken Anderson, Donna Miller, Tyra Collombin and Annica Collombin who donated artwork to the Tom Uphill Manor, and artists Joey Milner, Karen MacDonald, Margaret Hinton, Sue Liddy, Pat Moore, her late mother Irene Atkinson, and Ilona Webster who donated pieces to Trinity Lodge.
Stead encourages any local artists interested in donating a piece to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org before June 30.