The Avalon Centre – the power of the ancient art of mural painting

Mystical and beautiful – The power of the ancient art of Mural painting

The idea of introducing the arts into the healing process is not a new concept. Thomas Sydenham, a 17th Century English physician, famously said ‘the arrival of a good clown exercises more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than 20 asses laden with drugs.’ It is widely recognised that Art in any form, be it poetry, theatre, paintings, images or installations can bring lightness and joy to the surroundings and is far more than just decoration. The earliest known murals existed in the Paleolithic era and were discovered in caves in southern France, circa 30,000 BC. Now they can be seen in almost every environment and it’s a much respected and admired art form. You only have to think of Banksy to appreciate many of the benefits mural art can bring, especially in a healthcare setting.

We are very fortunate that Joy Chamberlain, CEO at Elysium Healthcare, supports the arts in many ways and it’s no surprise that Elysium sites often have beautiful hand painted murals. The most recent creation, The Recovery Tree, can be seen at The Avalon Centre – our new Neurobehavioral Rehabilitation service in Swindon.

At the start of July artist Maria Hayes arrived at the hospital to begin her work on the recovery tree which soon took on a life of its own. A mystical, beautiful form of a tree that encompasses all four seasons swiftly appeared and looked as though it were swaying and spreading branches across the dining room wall. Individual leaves were created for staff and patients to attach to the tree so that the image could blossom or shed in synergy with how people felt at any one time. Look closely and you will see the beautifully painted woodland creatures and insects nestling in the branches.

Patients and staff were encouraged to take part in the experience and many tried their hands at painting; some even helped to depict their own beloved pooches in and around the tree. It’s great to see patients connected to their world outside through their special friends and it is hoped that being reminded of their lovely dogs will really motivate them towards recovery.

The therapeutic benefits of this fabulous work are tangible. It makes art and creative expression accessible, provoking dialogue between patients and staff who can’t help but stop and look at the image. It slows down the pace and creates a sense of calm, shared identity and belonging. Most importantly it makes everyone smile, including Mable the Therapy Dog in Waiting.

Watch this space for more from Mable in next month’s post.