Posted on: 19 July 2023
A CNWL patient opens a pop-up gallery - with the help of Older Adult staff at Bentley House in Harrow - to showcase her art, which helped her recovery.
Picture this… You’re in the National Gallery. You devote time trying to answer the question, why did an artist paint this?
At this gallery, it was clear why the artist made these pictures... pure joy and love.
Jo Bishop, a patient at Bentley House in Harrow, created a gallery of all her own works which on the day simply made people feel complete joy.
Everyone who entered the gallery space, staff, patients, or a loved ones of Jo would grab a drink and walk over to look at a picture. The colourful chalk or paint would reflect on their face and a bright smile would follow.
They’d point out the details and turn to the person next to them, sharing the joy the painting gave them. “Did you see the dog hiding in that picture there” or “Look at the way she did the fur in so much detail”, were just some of the conversations being started between strangers.
Jo sold 4 paintings in under an hour and the room was filled with people trying to get a look.
Laughter abounded and the happiness on the day was palpable.
Speaking to Jo and her family/friends it’s surprising to know that this gallery was nearly not to be.
Jo said “I was referred to Bentley house following a stroke and other problems which resulted in a significant loss of self-confidence. I didn’t recognise myself.”
A keen painter before her stroke, Jo nearly didn’t pick up the pastels again, that was until her friend’s daughter convinced her to go back to art class and start to create.
Jo’s confidence, although hidden to her at the time, evidently was always present on paper. The works produced before and after all have the same amount of heart – proving even after a difficult time, who Jo was may have felt lost but was hiding in plain sight just waiting to be seen again.
The parents of the daughter were at the pop-up gallery, beaming with happiness.
Jo mentioned, “My paintings are an important part of who I am and this whole experience has been a real boost.”
Jo’s husband accompanied her at the event and poignantly said, “I’m very proud.”
Jo talked about her experience at Bentley House, a Community Mental Health Hub in Harrow:
“My visits here have been of great benefit, helping me to re-build my identity and confidence. I would like to thank the Older Adults Team for all their help and understanding.”