Victoria Hospice helps Fife man Bob to draw on his hidden art talent

Bob with staff member Amy McNeill.
Bob with staff member Amy McNeill.

Like many people, Robert Gardiner has a hidden talent but, in his case, it was something he discovered much later in life.

Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a year past January, the 69-year-old from Cardenden found out that he was a dab hand with a paint brush – thanks to the Day Hospital at Victoria Hospice.

“The only paint I ever did was painting walls,” Robert, who is known as Bob, explained.

“But I was encouraged to take part in art sessions at the Hospice every Thursday and I realised that I had a talent for it, which came as a bit of a surprise to me if I’m honest.”

Bob’s first piece was a colourful toucan and his love of art sprouted wings.

“I’ve painted birds and boats and I’ve been to the West Coast a few times which gives me inspiration,” he said.

“I’ve also painted the Garve Hotel in Inverness when we went there for a few days’ break – that turned out quite well, I think.

“I’ve also turned my hand to printing and making brooches from shrinking paper.

“We’ve made butterflies and that sort of thing.”

The creative classes are not only therapeutic but also provide an opportunity for patients to socialise.

“It has been great to meet other men who are in the same situation,” Bob said.

“And doing the art is very therapeutic. It helps keep me busy. I used to enjoy walking but I struggle to walk long distances now.

“Even a short walk can leave me a bit tired, so I normally need a sleep for an hour – or maybe two!”

This Saturday and Sunday (May 26 and 27) members of the public will have the opportunity to view all of the patients’ work close-up.

For the Community and Events Unit at the Mercat Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy will be hosting an exhibition of inspiring artworks created by those attending the Day Hospice.

It’s a rare opportunity to view a wonderful selection of creative works including paintings, textiles, mixed media and printmaking.

The art has all been produced during the creative, therapeutic art sessions offered as part of the day hospice’s care.

Art sessions form an important part of the service, providing an opportunity for patients to engage and focus on new skills in a social setting, helping to boost their confidence and self-esteem.

Bob added: “I’m looking forward to showing my work at the exhibtion. It is a great showcase for the hospice – the staff here are fantastic.”

The exhibition aims to highlight another side to hospice care, through the enthusiasm and vitality in the patients’ artwork.

Scott Sweaton, senior charge nurse, said: “We hope that the local community can find a connection with the services offered at Victoria Hospice – palliative care focuses on quality of life and enjoying the moment.

“Fife Specialist Palliative Care offers services throughout Fife.

“We hope that raising awareness of what is on offer will ensure people have a better understanding and acceptance of what we do.”

The exhibition will be hosted by the Victoria Hospice arts team with help from nursing staff and volunteers, all of whom will be on hand to discuss the artwork and other activities available at the hospice.

There will also be a sale of high quality arts and crafts created by the day hospice patients.

And Healthy Harmonies, the NHS Fife choir, will also be performing on Sunday afternoon.

A wide range of leaflets and resources on a number of services connected to palliative care will also be available.

Join the event at Mercat Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy, this Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

Entry to the exhibition is free.