Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Working in Partnership with Bedfordshire Carers Group

Mother Nature is the title of a mini Exhibition of work by the Bedfordshire Carers Group at the Town Hall, Bedford, from 23rd August – 20th September 2011. The exhibition will then move to Bedford Borough Hall from 20th September – 18th October 2011. The exhibition is the result of a six week creative course put together by Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum in partnership with Bedfordshire Carers.

Photographs of the Bedfordshire Carers Group with their exhibition at the Town Hall, Bedford

The Art and Photography classes offer carers a unique opportunity to socialise with others who share similar experiences of looking after a family member, sometimes for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. The experience provides an invaluable break from the duties of caring and is of great importance.

Bedfordshire Carers is a not-for-profit registered charity and a member of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.  The charity, founded in 2004, specialises in supporting all family carers and past carers aged 16 onwards.  People who care for a family member are often hidden away by the continuous work of caring for a family member. Time spent away from the cared for is rare and therefore very special. Angie Millar, one of the participants, said ‘Carrying out new projects is so interesting. I forget all my worries when I am here’.
The Art Gallery & Museum has been working with Bedfordshire Carers for several years. We have hosted classes in photography, drawing and painting.   In a series of artist-led workshops, the Carers have learned new skills, brushed up old ones, made new friends, shared experiences and exchanged ideas.  In 2009 at Bedford Museum we hosted the Carers first exhibition ‘Treasures’, this was inspired by the Treasures Exhibition that marked the opening of Bedford Gallery.

The success of that first exhibition encouraged us to run a further series of classes on card making, printing and box-making (the latter inspired by our Lace Collection).  Great fun was also had making Christmas tree decorations for the Tree Festival at St. Paul’s Church.  Meanwhile the photography class has documented the start of the Art Gallery & Museum’s redevelopment by taking portraits of members of staff.  

I was surprised and pleased to be presented with a collage of these photographs at the opening of the 'Mother Nature' exhibition.

Carmela Semeraro
Community Historian