Facing out at Maggie’s

Today I visited Maggie’s, Manchester, a wonderful centre that provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. It was an incredible place to witness and follows the ideas about cancer care originally laid out by Maggie Keswick Jencks. It was built in the grounds of NHS cancer hospital, Christies, and is a place with professional qualified staff on hand to offer the support people need. The atmosphere was extremely peaceful and friendly, and provided places for patients to meet other people or simply sit quietly with a great cup of tea.

My visit was organised by Wendy Gallagher, our Arts and Health Partnership Manager within the Learning and Engagement departments at the Whitworth Art Gallery and here at Manchester Museum. It was in support of the centre, and particularly a new project, ‘Facing Out’, involving local artist and portrait painter, Lucy Burscough.

‘Facing Out’ is a two-year project that explores how engaging with artworks and art practice can improve resilience and well-being in people whose faces have been affected by facial cancers and surgical reconstruction. Lucy will be creating a series of portraits of people who have altered appearances due to facial reconstruction following cancer. The project is designed to create beautiful paintings of these beautiful people and raise awareness of the challenges that confront those living with facial disfigurement.

Well, I met Lucy, and also the lady who features in her latest portrait, Annie, a wonderful lady with a big smile and kind face. She had just has facial surgery. She was so positive and loved the presentation I gave about our amphibian work. Straight away she told me how much she enjoyed visiting the Museum’s Vivarium with her grandchildren to see all our creatures, and particularly how much she loved our daily handling table that allows our visitors to experience the animals up close. That was music to my ears.

‘Facing Out’ also includes a series of workshops delivered by Lucy and by artists working in music, poetry and horticulture, all also inspired by The Whitworth artworks and by objects from Manchester Museum’s collections, the reason I was afforded the privilege of supporting the project today. It was quite an experience, with special people to share time with, in the specially designed Centre that was a work of art in itself.

‘Facing Out’ will be exhibited at the Whitworth Art Gallery in early 2019.

Lucy Burscough

Manchester Science Festival, October 2017

MAGGIES CENTRE

 

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