Art work brings joy to the activity centres of Disability Services

24.11.2022 12.35Updated: 28.11.2022 8.12

Artist Elina Laitinen worked with people with disabilities in activity centres in autumn 2022. She independently led various small groups in the mornings, and ran art workshops as part of the normal afternoon activities. At the activity centres, everyone was able to participate in the production of art from their own point of view.

Artist Elina Laitinen worked alternately at the Kuninkantantie and Riilahti activity centres from 15 August until 11 November 2022. Access to art is important to Elina and she enjoys working with diverse communities. The artist started by visiting each of the two centres and, based on this, drew up a schedule and structure for the artwork that would be suitable for the residents of the centres.

In the mornings, art groups with small numbers of participants were repeated, with a total of 21 clients attending. The aim was to select people who might not otherwise have easy access to visual arts, and with whom the artist could work without the help of staff. Many techniques were experimented with in the art groups. After the first experiments, it was up to the participants to decide which technique they wanted to use more. Painting was popular and was done a lot.

“In the small art groups, everyone was able to immerse themselves in their own work in peace. I was always there the guidance when needed. Sometimes the peaceful and creative atmosphere made me want to paint and draw too. Almost everyone can paint and it provides a direct channel for self-expression,” says Elina.  

In the afternoons, clients could join the group activities according to their own interests. The afternoon art workshops in groups were quick but rewarding forays into the world of visual expression. The varying abilities of the clients to participate were taken into account in the planning of the activities. The active involvement of staff enabled successful work with larger groups.

When participants were asked what they liked most about the art groups, several mentioned making tassels as the best part. “The best thing was just being in the art group and drawing. You could be quiet,” explained one participant.

Elina Laitinen

The work of award-winning artist and fashion designer Elina Laitinen has been exhibited in several exhibitions in Finland and abroad. The art work at the Kuninkantantie and Riilahti activity centres was made possible by a project grant from Espoo's Cultural Department. Elina's work in the centres was planned for spring 2020, but it was not possible to complete the project until autumn 2022. She has previously worked as an artist at a day-care centre in Helsinki, and in daytime activity for people with disabilities in Lahti.