For Joy St George, resident of St Andrews care home Dunedin, Wednesdays were just another day. Then, John Schofield entered her life and Wednesdays have never been the same since.
Joy has a quiet passion for expressing herself through writing and artwork, something she thinks she inherited from her mother, Terri Macnicol, author of ‘Beyond the Skippers Road’. As a young girl living in Skippers Canyon, Joy took up pencil drawing, and in more recent times she’s ‘dabbled’ with acrylics.
However, it was a chance meeting with John, who was speaking about art to a residents’ group, which changed things forever.
“Joy tapped me on the shoulder and said she was also interested in art, but one look at her collection of brushes, paints and finished canvases, and I knew it was more than an interest - she had talent worth nurturing,” says John.
Weekly coaching sessions were set up and Joy moved from painting in isolation in her room, out into a shared lounge area with much more space and natural light. Now they paint alongside each other on Wednesdays – John improving his portraiture skills and Joy, using her keen eye for detail, on landscapes. Both enjoy the companionable silence of working together, and the encouragement of other residents who stop to admire their work.
John loves spending time at St Andrews, talking and sharing his interests with the residents. Not only does he paint, he also plays the Irish Whistle and clarinet to appreciative residents. He reads newspapers and novels to residents too. But it’s his connection with Joy and the determined change he’s seen in her that gives him the most satisfaction.
Joy agrees, saying, “We have fun when we meet, and I’m more motivated than I was; I see more aspects of myself. Wednesdays are a special day for me now.”
John laughs. “Joy’s confident, enthusiastic and more relaxed now. We engage at many levels and have some good intellectual debates. I realise I can make a difference, and it feels great.”
Perhaps you have a talent, or special interest you would like to share with care home residents? If you would like to give a talk or demonstration, as a one-off activity, please contact Michelle Gerwitz on 03 477 7115 to explore opportunities all over Otago.