Case Studies

Living Room Artist Residencies: Perton Manor

  • Artist(s):
    Mark Riley
  • Artform(s):
    Environmental art, willow sculpture
  • Funder(s):
    Staffordshire County Council and Wolverhampton Art Gallery
  • Duration:
    Jan - June 2015
  • Health Need(s):
    Dementia, Older People
Mark Riley worked with staff and residents at Perton Manor care home to create a new willow sculpture garden comprising of walkways, arbours and a central sculpture.

Project Information

Perton Manor is a purpose built specialist care home situated on 4.5 acres of land on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. In the process of redeveloping outdoor spaces to incorporate new allotments and garden areas, Perton Manor were keen to encourage residents to spend time outdoors engaging with the natural environment. They commissioned environmental artist Mark Riley to produce work in an outdoor space, adding to and complementing their outdoor project plan.  

Mark Riley worked with staff and residents to create a new willow sculpture garden comprising of walkways, arbours and a central sculpture. Mark held a series of consultation sessions at the outset of his residency to discuss the what the central sculpture would be. Ideas relating to play, childhood and family came through strongly and Mark linked these to features of the local area, specifically the nearby RAF Cosford airfield, visible from the grounds of the care home. He created a design depicting an adult and child pretending to be aeroplanes, celebrating the important role that play has on a person's wellbeing, whatever their age.

Residents, family, friends and members of the local community were invited to an afternoon garden party marking the official opening of the new willow sculpture garden on 19 June 2015 as part of the National Care Home Open Day. This is a UK-wide initiative which encourages local people to visit care homes in their community and to work together to develop stronger relationships. It was particularly relevant as the theme for the 2015 national open day was Celebrating the Arts and during the afternoon guests were invited to participate in creative activities along with being entertained by a classical musician before the grand opening of the new garden. The willow garden has continued to be the focus of further creative activities and has inspired the wellbeing team to develop further areas in the garden.

“The artist needed time to create the sculpture garden and the focus of the residency was very much about a finished end product which has created a legacy. The launch party was the first time families got to hear the whole story [about the residency] and they responded very positively.” Juliet Briggs, Care Home Owner

“We have a client who has hallucinations and having the new sculpture garden has made a difference. She sat holding hands with her husband, completely still and in the moment.” Activity Coordinator

Mark Riley is an Environmental Artist incorporating both 2D and 3D techniques including drawing, painting, collage, clay, mosaic and willow sculpture. He has 20 years experience using the arts in a board range of roles delivering environmental, community development and education projects.