Using one’s gifts – 2

The second in a series featuring church members with creative gifts
‘Something fishy’ by Clare Benson

When I was clearing my mother’s house after her death, I found hundreds of handwritten letters from friends and family, dating back many decades. I made use of some of them in a series of collages of people in conversation; torn scraps with different handwriting suggesting voices filling the space between and around the figures. I enjoyed choosing the words; sometimes themes of conversation began to emerge — in this case, fish.

The collages were based on quick sketches I made in the café at a large hospital where I was visiting my mother, who had several long stays there during the last year of her life. At the time, the art group I belonged to was planning an exhibition on the theme of Conversations. This prompted a new direction in my work, which is usually focused on landscape.

Spending time in the hospital, I began to think about the human dramas happening there. Conversations across café tables must touch on matters of life and death more often than in the world outside, although there’s also plenty of mundane chat and jokey banter. Body language and gestures give clues to mood and relationships.

Clare Benson

The café where I did the drawings had a wall used for temporary art exhibitions, and my collages were shown there last year. There was a lot of varied and interesting art on walls throughout the hospital, and I was glad to contribute in a small way to making the surroundings seem more human, and perhaps lifting the spirits of people at a difficult time in their lives.