Hi Lanie – It’s May and the Rose Hill Rebels should be exhibiting their work to visitors as part of the Artists Open Houses festival now. Instead we are all two months into lockdown and for many of us, especially older people, a period of lonely isolation.
Can you tell us about the Rose Hill Rebels?
Rose Hill Rebels are a group of artists who live at Rose Hill Seniors Housing in Brighton. We work in a wide range of media including paint, photography, clay and textiles. Usually we have weekly visits from Lucy, an artist who works with charity Equal Arts, who runs creative sessions. Lucy has supported us the last few years to install our Artist Open House exhibitions. We’ve also done projects with the local children’s nursery Wise Owls, and neighboring Seniors Housing Brooke Mead and had group trips to local gardens Sheffield Park.
We tend to work in our communal lounge, where there is a table normally covered in glitter from my sparkly art pieces! We also work in our flats, often well into the night if we have the Artist Open House coming up! For the last two years, we have been part of the Artist Open House Festival in May and December. Many of us live on our own and having the Artist Open House is a way to share our creativity with people.
Could you tell us what it means to the Rose Hill Rebels to take part in the AOH festival?
The Rose Hill Rebels love being part of the AOH Festival! We love opening our doors to the public and speaking to visitors about our art. Showing the work we have created, having positive comments from members of the public, and being able to sell our art is a fantastic opportunity. It’s really nice to meet the local community and create new friendships and connections.
We also invite residents from other seniors housing in Brighton to take part in the Artist Open House and show their work and though this we have made some new friends.
The other positive thing about the Artist Open House is connecting with residents from Rose Hill we haven’t spoken to before, and finding out their artistic talents! Last December we had a resident John show his paintings as part of our Artist Open House. Until he saw us hanging our work and said he was an artist we weren’t aware he was a very talented painter with a large amount of canvases in his flat ready to show!
How are the Rose Hill Rebels managing during lockdown and what have they been doing?
As Rose Hill is on lockdown, many residents have been feeling lonely as the majority live on their own. Residents living in Seniors Housing can often feel isolated. Some people don’t have any living relatives left, and therefore the communal lounge is normally a social lifeline for some residents. With social distancing, many residents are spending an increased amount of time on their own, particularly if they are shielding.
We are lucky at Rose Hill that we have a beautiful garden maintained by one of the residents, Chris. We have been able to enjoy the garden abiding by social distancing rules and chat to the resident Bantam hens Speckles and Brownie!
Creativity has been the thing that has been keeping many of us going. I have been busy taking photographs of the ever-changing garden flora and particularly enjoying experimenting with macro images. I’ve been sending them to Lucy by email so we can keep in touch and she can see pictures of the garden at Rose Hill, which is glorious at the moment!
It’s harder for residents like Tuck, who is 93 and blind. Usually he has support to work with clay and create his sculptures, but he’s been feeling lonely since lockdown and misses visits from his friends and family. The Artist Open House is something he normally looks forward to as he can chat to visitors – he said the Artist Open House in May was one of the best times in his life for a long time!
How can audiences engage digitally with what the Rose Hill Rebels are doing during lockdown?
The Rose Hill Rebels have created an online Facebook Gallery to show our past work, and also the work we have been creating during lockdown. We would love people to engage with our Facebook page – like it, share it, and leave comments. If you feel inspired by our work, then perhaps you can post some of your own work as we would love to see it and we could have an online art exchange!
Do you think there are other ways artists and audiences might engage with the Rose Hill Rebels during this period of isolation?
Tuck usually loves chatting with the children from local Wise Owls nursery, who were visiting for regular art sessions before lockdown. He especially loves hearing the children singing to him. As he’s blind, sounds are important to him and connect him to other people. He’s feeling really lonely at the moment and would love people to send some short clips of singing. Music , or any pictures or greetings. You can post these on our Facebook page, and we will read or play them to him.
We are delighted that you are taking part in the AOH facemask making project, providing face masks for the public to buy. Could you tell us a bit about this?
I have long term illness which has changed the direction of my life. This requires that I have worn facemasks when I am in public for many years. I have always enjoyed choosing bright and colourful facemasks as a talking point!
I wanted to create facemasks that reflect the quirky and bright nature of my artwork and also feature some of the animals who visit the Rose Hill Garden including Frank the Seagull and Brownie the Bantam Hen! As I am shielding and unable to go to the Post Office, I have used RedBubble as they send the product straight to the buyer. For every mask sold, Redbubble will donate a mask to Heart to Heart International and any of my art can be customised into a facemask. (https://www.hearttoheart.org/about/)
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Thank you to AOH for all your support over the years, and we can’t wait to welcome you all back to our Artist Open House when we can!