What Dreams Are Made Of

Aimee Haldane, Sculpture & Environmental Art

Winner, GSA Sustainability Degree Show Prize, 2021

What Dreams Are Made Of is a sculpture-based project created during my artist’s placement with Art in Hospitals. For this project, I created boxes of sculptural materials and inspiration to reinforce play and imagination inspired by the everyday. The boxes were packed and delivered to hospital patients and care home residents in Glasgow and surrounding areas. The concept of the box surrounds dreams both methodically and aesthetically. Dreams are visual metaphors created by our daily encounters, helping us process everything we have seen, said, touched, tasted, and transforming it in to a new narrative. The project has underlying themes of escapism and boundless imagination.

Inspired by Wendy Ewald’s social art project ‘Portraits and Dreams,’ I was drawn to the ideas of providing people a tool of art to extend their own independence, imagination and personal development. This was also the reason I was drawn to Art in Hospital, they give guidance and bridge the gaps of who art is made by and for by accessibly and inclusively opening up the world.

To complete this project, I recognised the importance ’scrap,’ easily sourced and everyday materials would play. As the project covers dreams, stories of our days, I wanted the work to reflect this. The concept of exchange, translation and transformation of materiality to the figurative fascinated my material choice and reminded me of the upcycling processes. Some materials included fabric scraps, loose buttons, toilet paper tubes, and more sourced from Glasgow Scrapstore who kindly donated materials. By combining these objects, the residents and patients can use their imaginations to create just like we do when asleep. I also decided to include clay as it is a natural material and representative of many aspects of the everyday as well as it’s mailability influencing sensory expression. My starting point of the whole project was to experiment with the materials, being cautious of the recipients of the boxes: experience, accessibility, limited mobility, etc.

Ideas of play also influenced the box. I created a guidebook and set of inspo cards which became integral to the success of the project. They gave some techniques of how to use materials so everyone could have an accessible experience of creating sculptures regardless of prior knowledge and current abilities. Alongside this, some patients also had zoom workshops with me to explore the box further. As this was my first socially engaged art piece it was amazing to see the direct impact the project had on those it was for. For example, those during dialysis were redirecting their energy and thoughts in to making. One hospital ordered more to continue the project, saying the clay reminded the patients of their childhood. Each person got to explore something new in a world of mundanity due to not seeing family or having art classes. It was also interesting to adapt in situations such as people with different methods of communication than words, and some with inability to use one arm. But with my research of materials everyone was able to make something. Just like how we create in our minds from the day.

Overall, the success of the project can be seen in the reconstruction of the everyday in to new narratives by the patients and residents. Going further, the project has potential to find itself in other departments of hospitals such as physically disabled units due to it’s sensory benefits. I’d also like to see it’s potential out with hospitals to others who need an escape and fun. I feel the project has redefined studio space and created a platform for sculpture in arts therapy. Without the pandemic, this project wouldn’t have impacted people the way it did. It is important for people to have a breath of art in the chaos of their lives.

Art in Hospitals interview
Link to the guidebook
Glasgow Play Resource Association

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