Art boosts Parkinson's patients' morale

Assistant Professor Michael Tan from NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media with some of the 3D clay paintings created by patients and caregivers. The exhibition, called The Tulip Story, is at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
PHOTO: Art boosts Parkinson's patients' morale

PARKINSON'S disease patients find it hard to control their movements, as they suffer from tremors and rigidity in their limbs. Yet this has not stopped some from creating the 3D clay paintings and sculptures featured in an exhibition held in conjunction with World Parkinson's Day on April 11.

Called The Tulip Story, the exhibition started yesterday and will run until next Monday at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The patients worked with their caregivers to create the art pieces in clay workshops held over six weeks and led by Assistant Professor Michael Tan, 40, of the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University.

Mr Tan, whose father suffers from a neurodegenerative disease, started the workshops to give those with Parkinson's disease a way to express themselves and interact with other people.

"When you(develop) a disease like Parkinson's, you tend to isolate yourself or feel depressed or worthless. Art provides patients with a sense of self-worth," he said.

Mr Kong Chong Yew, 29, an art instructor at the workshops, said of the participants: "They start off being very resistant and tell us that they are bad at art. But at the end of the workshop, they go back feeling very proud of what they have accomplished."

Said another instructor, Ms Cheryl Teo, 27: "The classes are a way of convincing these patients that although their mobility is not as good as before, they are still able to do things and live life to the fullest."

The art workshops have recently gone beyond clay painting into cyanotype, an art form akin to print-making. Mr Tan said he hopes to introduce even more art forms in future.

One patient who took part in the workshops, Mr Jason Foo, 51, said: "Art takes my mind off my usual medication routine. It makes me proud that I can create something beautiful despite my limitations."

This article was first published on Apr 7, 2015.
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