Art Therapy. Easel For People Living With A Disability

Helping people with disabilities to find ease when painting by using a specially designed easel.

The Birchwood Painters are group of artists who reside at a SCOPE care home in Herfordshire. All the artists are wheelchair users and most have severe cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. As part of the care programme, the residents take part in activities to stimulate and entertain them. One of these activities is painting. Every other week, two enthusiastic volunteers who are passionate about art, host a painting class for the residents.

One of the many problems the painters face is trying to paint on a canvas which is mounted on an easel designed for an able-bodied person. A combination of their physical disabilities and the sheer bulk of their electric wheelchairs mean that they find it difficult to get close to the canvas. Some of the painters have to use a mouth-stick whilst another cannot hold anything with any weight and consequently uses a feather to paint with. The only solution on many occasions was for the carers to hold the canvas in their hands whilst the painter applied the different media from a brush etc. The ladies who host the painting class approached DEMAND and asked if it would be possible to come up with a solution to their problem.

The charity DEMAND were approached to design something that did not exist to enable people with a disability to paint more freely and be more adaptable to their needs.  This charity designs and manufactures equipment for people with disabilities in all sorts of different fields.

Personally designed easels created by DEMAND have enabled the group of artists much more freedom and control in their creations where previously the class volunteers had to hold the canvas making certain angles to paint more awkward. Anita Osborne is one of the community art tutors at Birchwood and comments on the impact that the art classes have had; “With the painting came this extraordinary outpouring of themselves and they have just been amazing,” Anita Osborne

Mark Urwin attends the classes and has showed a passionate interest in History of Art, particularly the works of impressionist painter Édouard Manet whose colourful scenes of everyday modern life have captivated art lovers worldwide. Inspired by his new found freedom in painting, Mark recently contributed some of his work to a DEMAND charity fundraiser to help raise funds for further equipment.

“When I paint, I feel free and excited. I think about beauty and I picture love. Some colours excite me. Green is very promising; it lifts my mood.” Mark Urwin

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