For their first Slow Art Day, Monique Silk and her colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, created a series of Slow Art Cards in sets of five so both patients and visitors could participate. The cards utilized three different art works from their art collection and a photo from their archives. On the back of the card, they included a series of instructions on ways to look at the art works slowly.
The prompts they used are:
- Look: Give yourself a few minutes to look all over the art work. Let your eyes wander to all corners of the image, top to bottom and left to right.
- Observe: Notice the colors, shapes, objects, textures and markings on the surface of the art work. Where do your eyes focus?
- Feel: What words come to mind about this art work? How do you feel looking at this art work? Does it remind you of anything?
- Share: Share your experience of looking at the artwork with someone and post an image of the work online with a word of reflection and hashtag #slowartday2022
Cards were distributed to various hospital departments to share with patients and visitors on Slow Art Day. The response from the staff to the cards was very positive.
Monique also a slow art activity in the hospital courtyard. This activity invited people to sit and slowly look at their statue of St Vincent de Paul. They even invited people to come and hold his hands and interact with the sculpture directly. While people were a bit shy when sitting with the sculpture, the hosts gave people space to interact without feeling as though they were being directly observed.
One patient was wheeled out to the courtyard to be with the sculpture of St. Vincent and her caregiver said “this was the highlight of her day”. Another staff member said they had never noticed the sculpture before and thanked the hosts for giving them the opportunity to “feel” the presence of St. Vincent.
The pastoral care staff decided that the cards can be used on an ongoing basis and one chaplain said that:
“It’s a joy to offer the beautiful slow art cards to patients. There has been gratitude expressed from those who received your wonderful gifts. Such a great initiative!”
After the events, the hosts realized that they should have included a First Nations art work, which they plan to do for Slow Art Day 2023.
We at Slow Art Day are so happy that St. Vincent’s in Melbourne decided to celebrate Slow Art Day 2022 with patients and visitors. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a trend of many more hospitals around the world joining the slow looking movement, and bringing the power of learning to look at and love art to patients, visitors, and staff. This is a true Mitzvah.
– Robin, Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl