Catherine Lewis is a visual artist who specialises in textiles but also works with a wide range of media and techniques.
According to Catherine, her work “is driven by a passion: to create without burden, to add to the existing but often unseen, to represent the forgotten or undervalued; traditional skills and lapsed thoughts, how easily they are lost.”
Catherine had previously contributed to some of the work around the closure of Whitchurch Hospital and was interested in continuing to contribute however she could to the NHS in an artistic way.
In December 2016, Catherine began working in collaboration with Cardiff & Vale Health Charity to develop a portfolio of art in relation to the “Our Orchard” project at University Hospital Llandough.
Her concept of working using the natural materials provided to her by the plants of the orchard was innovative and exciting, and her plan to engage patients, staff and the local community in the project made her the perfect artistic partner to launch Our Orchard.
Catherine saw great potential in the orchard project, saying, “I see the project as being about making a sanctuary, a safe space, a community, a place of growth, inspiration and transformation. In making a working market garden, orchard and woodland that is a community project, the trust will assist in the personal therapeutic process, by improving well-being through the combination of meaningful activity, community inclusion and connecting with the natural environment.
“It could offer a place to gather, grow, learn, share and be inspired; a place to plant, tend, care, harvest, cook and to enjoy; a place where people gain a connection to the land, work with it, embracing the natural cycles and seasons, being in harmony and creating a sense of personal peace; a place that supports individuals, yet reaches beyond into the local communities and their sustainability; a place that doesn’t just create community on site but supports new communities, friendships and networks in the surrounding areas.”
Over a number of months, Catherine visited the site numerous times and documented the changing landscape and seasons with photographs, poetry, and by collecting plants to press them, dye them and then use them to make prints thereby capturing the essence of the plants in fabric.
In conjunction with this process, Catherine facilitated workshops at the adult mental health unit at Llandough, Hafan y Coed, wherein patients and staff made botanical prints and explored the orchard to experience and engage with the nature and wildlife on the site.
Catherine created an online diary of her time working in the orchard, which you can view here