Personally Speaking – The Art of Caregiving was a visual arts exhibition that took an unvarnished look at the grit, grace, challenges and rewards of caring for people with special needs, mental illness and frail or ill elderly. The Foundation commissioned eight artists, including graphic novelists, poster and printmakers, photographers and filmmakers, to work with different groups of caregivers over the better part of a year and delineate their journeys through art.
As family sizes shrink and more people need care, especially in the last leg of life, Singapore must embrace caregiving, not as the burden of a few, but as a responsibility for many. This exhibition sought to create awareness on the challenges of caring for people with complex needs. It also hoped to prompt caregivers to seek help, if needed, and inspire visitors to move from awareness to active support, such as by helping out caregivers they know or volunteering for activities involving seniors, the mentally ill and people with special needs. As the title suggests, Personally Speaking melds personal observations and experiences of the participating artists with those of caregivers from all walks of life. In some of the projects, the caregivers are not just passive subjects, but committed collaborators. In a photography and film project, for instance, caregivers of people with mental illnesses attend a series of workshops where they relieve stresses and articulate hopes and fears through movement, rather than words. A second artist documents pottery workshops where teenagers and adults with intellectual disabilities create clay vessels with their caregivers. Each vessel is a receptacle not just of their daily worries and frustrations, hopes and wishes, but also the fierce love that binds them together. Four of the artists confront the issue of caregiving for seniors, something that may touch each of us some day.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Gwee Li Sui
Mary Bernadette Lee