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HRH The Princess Royal attends ‘Meet the Makers’ to celebrate disabled artists

View all of the art and event photos in our online gallery

A Beatles jigsaw dress, fiery dragon, metal work sculpture and bumble bee mosaic – all got royal attention this week, at an event celebrating the art and creativity of disabled people.

‘Meet the Makers’ was an inspiring event hosted by Livability in the presence of Livability’s Patron – HRH The Princess Royal, to showcase art, crafts, metal works, textiles and painting from disabled people across the Livability community.

The event was held in North Greenwich and was attended by special guests and supporters to the charity.

HRH met with makers in the gallery

HRH The Princess Royal chats to Pat – the maker of a Beatles inspired jigsaw dress.

Walking through the gallery, Her Royal Highness viewed art that had been contributed by disabled people from a range of Livability’s services across the UK.

She also met personally with a number of the artists, to find out more about what inspired their work and creative projects.

Corin Pilling interviews one of the makers – Mikey

Corin Pilling – Assistant Director for Community Engagement hosted the evening, and interviewed Mikey Abercrombie – a maker from Maesbury Metals, who shared his metal work at the event.

Assistant Director of Community Engagement Corin Pilling interviews Mikey – one of the makers from Livability Maesbury Metals

Words from CEO Helen England

Livability CEO Helen England, gave a speech commenting on the value of art and creativity in Livability’s work. She thanked the contributors for sharing their creativity, and Livability’s services that do so much to advance creativity in their settings. Helen said: ‘I’m delighted that together we have made tonight’s event possible. I can see so many pieces of art and expressions of creativity, made possible by the people that use our services. It’s excellent to be able to showcase the talents of so many people. I’d like to say a very sincere thank you to all the makers for sharing your gifts with us tonight.’

Livability CEO Helen England addresses guests and makers at the event

Helen went on to talk about the importance of art in wellbeing and introduced a new appeal the charity is launching called ‘Brightening Lives’. ‘We always say as a charity that there are so many different things that add up to a full and flourishing life and it’s clear that for so many people we support art plays a major part in that. I’m proud to see that through the collaboration between the people we support and our staff, more opportunities are being developed for people to explore creativity through the arts. But we know that there is so much further that we can go. At Livability we want to do more to promote art and creativity across our services. That is why we are launching our appeal tonight called “Brightening Lives”.’

HRH comments on the importance of art

HRH The Princess Royal addresses guests at Livability’s Meet The Makers event

HRH The Princess Royal addressed the event guests and commended the work of the makers.

Her Royal Highness complemented the makers on their creativity and commended Livability staff for recognising the importance that art has to play in the lives of the people the charity supports. On the exhibits in the gallery she said: ‘I’m not sure I need to add very much, because the gallery and the exhibits here say a great deal all by themselves.’

Remarking on the different art exhibited, which included painting, metal works and wooden sculptures HRH said: ‘I hope that you are all impressed not just by the quality, but by the range of and the difference of materials used.’

She went on to thank staff at Livability services who promote art in their settings. ‘I would like to thank and congratulate the staff across Livability who have responded to the emphasis on using art in helping individuals reflect their own interests. I’ve always been struck by the very individual approach that is the strongest point of Livability – because no two individuals are the same.’

Some of the metal works on display in the gallery had been made by repurposing horse shoes which obviously piqued the princess’s equestrian interests. She quipped: ‘Now we all know what to do with old horseshoes – you’ll be inundated with them!’

HRH made reference to The Arts Council, and their recognition of ‘the power of art to unlock people’s abilities and interests’. She also encouraged everyone in the room to think about embracing the role of art in their own lives saying ‘It’s never too late.’

She concluded by saying: ‘Thank you for setting the best possible example for how to support individuals to be individuals and respond to their own creativity’.

Chair of Trustees, Sally Chivers made closing remarks and highlighted the critical importance of the Brightening Lives appeal, and it’s aim to provide activities and projects that enhance wellebeing and care at our services and concluded with prayers.

Presenting a posy to HRH

Patricia Mann, who displayed her jigsaw dress on the evening and matching shoes, presented a posy to HRH The Princess Royal.

Jigsaw dress maker Pat meets HRH The Princess Royal and presents flowers

Meet the Makers – Art contributors

All art profiled at Meet the Makers event can be viewed at Livability’s online gallery. It has been shared by disabled people at Livability services across the UK.

Metal works design from Mikey – who takes part in Maesbury Metals, Shrewsbury.


Meet the Makers – Makers from Livability Holton Lee

Meet the Makers – Art from children and students at Livability’s Victoria Education Centre in Poole, Dorset.

Meet the Makers – Mikey’s story: Livability Maesbury Metals

Mikey is one of the participants at Livability Maesbury Metals. For Meet the Makers, Mikey has submitted a boot scraper that he has hand crafted in the metal workshop.

About his participation at Maesbury Metals, Mikey says: “I have epilepsy… I couldn’t get a job for quite a while. My fits are a problem. I found it very stressful and I felt rejected. When I came to Maesbury, I did my work assessment for welding. I enjoy it. I started making metal house numbers out of horseshoes. They sell them in the shop. I can use the forge and get to try new things. I’ve made a shepherd’s crook. My confidence has grown. I want to say thanks to them for teaching me to weld. I’m happier at Maesbury… Here is my community.”

Livability Maesbury Metals is a social enterprise that supports people to create and sell bespoke products to the local community in Oswestry. The Maesbury Metals team design and produce metal planters, ornamental garden furniture and other bespoke decorative items.

They also produce a variety of wooden items including storage solutions made from recycled pallets. Attendees gain skills in metalwork and woodwork from experienced support staff. The focus is to support people to learn new skills, make connections and grow wellbeing. The service has a particular understanding of disability and mental health.

Meet the Makers – Pat’s story: The dress with a jigsaw twist

Pat helped to create a showstopper of a dress in Wakefield Hospice’s charity shop window – decorated from jigsaws. The shop manager wanted to create an eye-catching window display. Pat lives at Livability York House – a home for 20 disabled adults. Pat has a strong artistic vocation. She loves to draw, is talented at copying artworks and loves doing jigsaws! The care team supported Pat to get involved with the dress project.

A few weeks later, Pat visited the shop to see the finished product and was staggered. ‘I’ve never known anyone to make a jigsaw dress!’ Pat commented. ‘It’s really satisfying to help.’

The initiative has been a vital part in Pat’s journey towards independence, supported by Livability’s care team who have also enabled Pat to increase her mobility and get more connected with her community.

Brightening lives campaign

As well as celebrating artwork from our disability services, the Meet the Makers event was held in support of Livability’s ‘Brightening Lives’ fundraising campaign. The appeal aims to provide activities and projects that enhance wellbeing at Livability’s care services. Guests on the evening were invited to learn how:

  • Livability care homes use art initiativies to grow wellbeing.
  • Livability enterprise projects enable people to grow craftsmanship and workplace skills.
  • Assistive technology supports disabled people to express their creativity.

The charity is seeking to find donors and supporters that can get behind advancing the vital impact that art makes to the wellbeing of disabled people. From buying art materials, investing in assistive technology or supporting enterprise initiatives, there is so much that supporters can do to make a difference. To find out how you can help, visit the online gallery.

Why art matters – growing wellbeing and connections

Creativity and self expression are such important parts of a flourishing life. Across the Livability community, a number of our services work hard to support people at our services express their creativity and pursue their creative interests. Art makes a vital difference to personal wellbeing and health.

A 2017 report from the All Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing shows that the arts have great potential to contribute to integrated, person-centred, health and social care. Music, dance, visual arts and writing are used to support health and wellbeing in a wide variety of settings. Arts are used for prevention, to support independent living and to meet the physical, mental and social needs of increasing numbers of people requiring long-term care.

Thank you to our contributors and event supporters

Livability thanks our Patron HRH The Princess Royal, her Lady in Waiting and the Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, Dr Peiter van de Merwe for their presence at Meet the Makers.

We extend a huge thanks to every Maker that contributed their art towards the evening. You made the evening what it was.

We express our sincere appreciation to our special guests and supporters for attending the evening and the vital contribution you make to the work of our charity.

Visit the online gallery and donate to Brightening Lives

'Thank you for setting the best possible example for how to support individuals to be individuals and respond to their own creativity'. HRH The Princess Royal

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