I spent many years working as an Occupational Therapist specialising in mental health and for the last 14 years working with elderly people coping with mental and physical difficulties as well as a diminished role in our society. I was always making and drawing in my spare time but in 2003 I took ten months off work to do an Art Foundation course at Hereford College of Art and Design, where I began experimenting with the translation of pencil drawings of the people I worked with into machine stitch on fabric. I returned to work but two years later retired from Occupational Therapy to concentrate on my art practice.


To offer good compassionate care, indeed to simply care for each other we need to be able to see each person as a unique individual. This is often made difficult by people’s inability to make logical verbal communication. But so much communication is visual rather than verbal. Sight is such a powerful sense: we spend so much time making fast decisions based on what we see. Looking and seeing can make us more informed and more creative in what we do, but it can also mislead – especially when loss of identity and control are involved.


I always felt that the importance of the imagination – how we interpret what we see when caring or just being with people – is neglected. I try to use my images to practise ‘looking’ in a more reflective way, to try to avoid hasty assumptions or categorising. I have also found them useful teaching aids for those working in the caring professions. I hope to encourage empathy and inclusion as well as to celebrate the courage of those older people who find life a struggle.


None of these images is intended as a portrait of a specific individual.


Thursday Afternoons, a film by Barry Lewis
Photographer and Film maker Barry Lewis made a short film of the Tea Dance I have been running for the past 8 years it was first shown at the exhibition Stitched Drawings, Wellcome Collection


Through Our Hands Magazine
Issue 4, February 2015
Georgie Meadows: Stitched drawings pp 41-46