Artwork from Orleans Gallery CREATE project - Arts in Care Homes
Artwork from Orleans Gallery CREATE project

Collect some nice art books and postcards for residents to look at and use these as inspiration and a starting point for art activities and discussion. See if a local artist or lecturer could come into the home and do an art talk. Your local art shop might be able to
suggest someone suitable.

Hold some art sessions with your residents. These could be run by a local artist or volunteer or a member of staff with an interest in art. You could approach your local art gallery, museum or college of further education and see if they would be interested in
working with you on an art project. Or look at ‘Find an Artist’ section in Arts in Care homes website.

Topic or theme for your art exhibition

Here are a few ideas:

  1. You could work on still lives, setting up a collection of interesting objects for residents to paint and draw.
  2. You could work on self-portraits. Have fun taking photographs of the members of your art group and print out copies that members can trace over or copy.
  3. You could use your local area for inspiration. Organise an outing to a local park to take photographs and do sketches. Find old photographs of the local area and share memories and stories.
  4. You could focus on colour and patterns, planning art activities which allow people to express themselves freely. Responding to pieces of music can be a fun way of getting people to loosen up.


Certain tools can help make art activities easier for your residents. Consider using some of the following:

  • Pencil grips
  • Easy grip scissors
  • Magnifiers
  • Lamps (if you aren’t working in a well-lit space)
  • Putting blocks under people’s work so it’s tilted upwards
  • Trays (with the beanbags under them)


A few things which might help:

  1. Use tape and clips to secure paper together or to the table.
  2. Plan different activities to meet different needs and interests.
  3. Sensory objects are good to create with – tissue paper can be easily manipulated and fabric is a great too. Some people love the tactile nature of clay and texture-based activities but others don’t like getting their hands messy.
  4. Try to stretch and challenge people. Help them to be brave and try new things.
  5. Take lids off glue sticks before passing them to a participant.
  6. Tracing paper is a great way of getting around the ‘I can’t draw’ and so is mono printing. Also using no traditional tools (tooth brushes, combs and feathers) is fun too, plus the works can be cut up and collaged with later.
  7. A great thing to have is a viewer. When people aren’t happy with their work you can encourage them to focus in on an area they like. They are also great for viewing images of paintings by focussing on specific areas.
  8. Images of artists work can help inspire people and act as a great conversation starter. They are a lovely keepsake for participants too.
  9. The exhibition could be multi-media. Consider running a range of activities as well as drawing and painting such as knitting, craft, ceramics and poetry.

Installing the exhibition

  1. Find a suitable space within the home for the exhibition. A corridor or hallway could work well if you have limited space within your care home but bear in mind accessibility for visitors to the exhibition.
  2. Think about how to frame and display your artwork. Second-hand frames can be bought fairly cheaply from charity shops. Ask your handy person to hang the pictures. Another option, which won’t damage your walls is to get a local printer to reproduce artwork by printing it onto foam board and hang using removable velcro picture hanging strips. Easels are another nice way of displaying paintings and drawings without having to use nails in walls. Use tables to display 3D objects and craft items.
  3. Display work according to colour, theme or dramatic impact!
  4. Include labels underneath the artwork, bottom right with artist’s name, title of work and medium and also price of artwork, if for sale.


  • Organise a private view and invite relatives, friends, the local paper and your local Mayor.
  • Make a colourful poster and/or postcards to promote exhibition and send out to relatives, friends and local community contacts.
  • Provide refreshments, assemble your artists, open the fizzy wine and enjoy! Remember to have your red dot stickers on hand to put on any artwork that is bought and make sure the artist knows they have sold a piece.
  • Send photos to Arts in Care Homes

This Guide was produced in collaboration with Charlotte Cranidge, Adult Programme Co-ordinator, Richmond Arts Service & Orleans House Gallery

The CREATE programme has been designed to engage older adults living in care within Richmond and neighbouring boroughs. The sessions aim to:

  • Improve quality of life for older people and their carers through delivering high quality creative engagement with our collection
  • Reduce social isolation in our community through enabling connections with the collection, people and place
  • Improve quality of life for older people and their carers in our priority wards within the borough through creative engagement with our collection
  • Challenge people’s perception of aging through celebrating creativity and recognising older audiences’ active contributions.

For more information please visit Orleans Gallery website.