The Art of the Possible in a Dignified Way – that makes sense
The target group of residents at Klosterparken are about 40 years of age and older. They have all been diagnosed with mental disturbances like senile dementia, brain damage, or they are suffering from schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety neurosis.
Visiting the institution Klosterparken at Loegumkloster you may find it difficult to find your way out. Reception staff have witnessed many amusing scenes when relatives, carriers and other visitors, have given up trying to find the way out.
"Grab the goose buy its tail", says the leader Henning Loesche with a smile. The flock of geese in flight in the mural, painted by Else Pia Martinsen Erz, camouflages the door. The size of the mural is approximately 2.5 x 5 meters and covers the exit. The door handle is hidden behind the goose's wing in the mural, which depicts two large flocks of geese, the marsh, a hare and a view of Vadehavet (the tidal area).
"The design and its background as well as the activity of the animals are not random: neither is the project, having been considered and reconsidered during the year the process lasted. The purpose of the mural has, however, always been perfectly clear: to safeguard the residents' comfort and security in order to distract them from trying to go out on their own.
Our residents may be watching the mural – recognizing the marsh, so characteristic of our little corner of Denmark, but they do not see the door, and they do not step into the mural, because so many cackling geese flutter around at eye level, and at the same time water diverts each resident from stepping into the landscape.
I suppose that the most important thing about pictorial art is its power to let people, irrespective of their handicaps, into a universe, where the individual can be inspired and can feel security and peace within a chaotic mind - to shift the focus from negative to positive thinking.
From the start it was therefore very important to me that the motif of the mural had to be both calm, balanced, and recognizable for the residents: Secure and recognizable - like the scent of coffee which reminds us of visits to grandmother.
In that respect the marshland of Southern Jutland is quite outstanding with its wide open spaces and abundant wild life", Henning Loesche says. He contacted three artists before he found one who would like to paint the mural and who could do it – the local artist Else Pia Martinsen Erz from Skaerbæk, in Toender Kommune.
The first time Else Pia Erz was introduced to Henning Loesche and his idea, she thought that it was either mad or brilliant.
"After we reached a mutual understanding of the project, I was still somewhat sceptical and had reservations about the idea as I had never made murals before. So I consulted a colour specialist in Germany who picked the right material for the work", says Else Pia Erz.
"In my studio back home I made a sketch. I spent many evenings and nights at Klosterparken. It was a very positive experience to meet the residents whose handicaps I had no previous knowledge of. A rapport developed between me and some of the residents".
"The mural is an attempt to unite art and social pedagogical considerations, which can frame two important dimensions –personal freedom and the fact that Klosterparken is not a closed residence", says Henning Loesche." The idea is to give residents a feeling of personal freedom and integrity in a dignified way.
I have no general view of research work in this field, but I find it important that experiences and new knowledge are spread, so we can learn from each other and create even better conditions for the residents.
The murals could possibly help to prevent situations where the residents try to get out on their own and might get lost. And thus the murals could prevent residents from getting hurt, reduce the need for limiting the right of self-determination, the use of lock systems and other kinds of technological equipment.
If that is the case, it is fantastic and ought to be implemented in relation to the design of new buildings, arrangements in already existing buildings, with the purpose of providing better comfort for the residents' home and the place of work as such.
Our experiences are positive – we have had no residents, after the murals have been painted, who on their own have tried to get out".
AuthorDirector of Klosterparken, Henning Loesche, Denmark.
Else Pia Martinsen Erz
Se more about the project: www.galerie-erz.dk under EXPO & 2010
Else Pia Martinsen Erz
Since 1997 Else Pia Martinsen Erz has had several exhibitions at art galleries and museums both abroad and in Denmark. She founded Gallery Erz in Skaerbæk in 2002. Since 1996 she has worked exclusively with painting, sketching and photography. Earlier she worked with textiles and had a job as a head of a department in the clothing industry. She was born 1961 in Feldborg, between Herning and Holstebro