The Way They Wear

The “make do and mend” skills of the post war generation of the 1940’s and 50’s will be back in vogue this month (October 2013) in the form of an exhibition at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

Artists and textile designers from the charity Artlink Central have been working with elderly patients in hospitals across the area to create austerity-style fashion pieces and share memories. Items on show in the main atrium will include dresses, shoes, ties and hats.

The project has involved a total of 50 frail elderly patients from Ward 5 at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Unit 3 and the Old Age Psychiatry Unit at Falkirk Community Hospital, and the Day Therapy Unit and Ward 3 in Stirling Community Hospital. It was designed to give patients, particularly those finding their stay in hospital isolating and challenging, a chance to share their talents and learn new skills, supported by NHS occupational therapy staff.

Claire Fitzgerald, NHS Forth Valley Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist said: “This activity reflects the core principles of our profession. We have been blending the traditionally thrifty habits of older patients with today’s craze for ‘up cycling’ and vintage clothing. The physical and mental exercise of re-creating pieces of costume, cutting with period paper patterns and recalling how clothing was repaired and made to last has re-ignited the sewing and tailoring skills of both men and women. It’s also provided much social interaction, conversation and amusement.”

NHS Forth Valley Arts and Wellbeing Coordinator Babs McCool added “Some patients were concentrating so hard on what they were doing that you could literally hear a pin drop!  Occupational Therapy staff are very keen to get men involved in practical activities and this project worked surprisingly well in that regard, so we hope we can all build on this experience in future Artlink Central projects.”

The project was led and coordinated by artist Christine Hilditch supported by a team of five artists and designers with a creative interest in social history and fashion. The ‘Way We Wear’ exhibition is part of Luminate, Scotland’s Creative Ageing Festival 2013 and after its time in the atrium at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, where it will be on show from 7th to 31st October 2013, the exhibition will go on tour to Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre and Falkirk and Stirling Community Hospitals