There’s a wealth of talent in our retirement homes in Berkshire
Our very own Picasso, Phil, 86, has unearthed a wealth of artistic talent among homeowners since becoming a popular member of the thriving community at Turner Place - a Retirement Living development for the over 60s in Thatcham, Berkshire, where he has lived with his wife, Rose, for two years.
“For the past 18 months, I’ve been running a weekly art class for the other homeowners. We really appreciate getting together and taking the time to slow down and relax, while doing something we enjoy. I’ve even had people comment that it’s the highlight of their week, which is always fantastic to hear.
“The beauty of creating art is that you don’t need years of experience to take it up. And the truth is we all have creativity and self-expression inside of us, regardless of whether you’ve lived your whole life without picking up a paint brush.”
Fellow homeowner and arts enthusiast, Connie says: “Phil is an excellent artist and I find his classes incredibly relaxing and enjoyable. They’re especially good for mental health, as well as the companionship of others.”
This retirement community art class became an exhibition
As the sessions grew in popularity, more and more masterpieces were created, inspiring the retirement community to hold an exhibition in aid of charity.
“I’ve formed a close friendship with a lovely couple, Pat and John Grover, at our neighbouring development, William House [a Retirement Living PLUS development that offers assisted living services for the over 70s]. Their daughter, Joy Read told me about an art exhibition she was at, which gave me the idea to do something similar here. I’ve been part of plenty of exhibitions before, but this is the first time I’ve ever staged one in my own home,” says Phil.
He adds, “We opened the exhibition to homeowners at both developments. There’s a ‘Knit & Natter’ group who put in some lovely work, along with another homeowner who makes ceramics. There were so many wonderful examples of people’s creativity, including some beautiful hand-painted birds, flower arrangements, and jewellery.
“I submitted 60 pieces, most of which were drawings of classic cars, as well as birds, and a landscape picture I named ‘Tranquillity on the Seashore’. The event was a huge success with floods of people turning up; at one point, it was so busy that people had to wait outside. We’re delighted that so many people took the time to visit and show their appreciation for art. We also want to say a huge thank you to everyone’s generosity, which helped us raise £150 for Cancer Research and local charity, Thames Valley Air Ambulance.”
Kayla Baillie, Site Manager at Turner Place, says: “Turner Place is a hub of social activity, with residents using the likes of the communal lounge and other shared facilities to cultivate a community feeling, socialise, and even learn new skills.
“It’s lovely to see so many homeowners here at Turner Place embracing their creativity. Phil has made such a positive impact, and the exhibition was a fantastic opportunity for friends, family, and neighbours alike to come together to celebrate everyone’s achievements.”
Impressed with his standard of work, one homeowner commissioned Phil to create a painting of her former home.
How Phil turned a hobby into a profession
Phil has always been a keen artist, and in 1994, ditched his 9 to 5 as a Technical Illustrator Engineer to pursue his long-held passion for painting and drawing. Having swapped a T-square and compass for sketchbooks and paints, Phil set up his own studio at the rear of his home in Woolhampton, Berkshire, where he and his wife Rose lived for 57 years.
“There’s so much more to art than putting pencil to paper. Not only is it a great way to express yourself, but it also helps you feel good. Nothing gives me greater joy than sitting in front of a blank canvas and letting my creativity run free,” he comments.
“I’ve created roughly 2,000 paintings during my years, from portraits and classic car oil paintings to scenes captured in and around Thatcham. I’ve also had the pleasure of showcasing my work at a number of exhibitions such as The Newbury Show, Reading Art Gallery, Wasing Park and Chipperfield Circus. It’s been an incredibly rewarding career that’s made taking the plunge all the more worthwhile.” Phil has worked with East Sussex-based giftware and cards brand, Judges, to create artwork that featured charming scenes from Newbury for a collection of bespoke Christmas cards which were sold in WHSmith.
Moving to a retirement apartment has allowed Phil’s artistry to flourish
“It’s been two years since my wife and I moved to Turner Place and we have cherished every moment. The community spirit is second to none, but what we love most is the freedom to do the things we enjoy most, which means I can paint and draw to my heart’s content.”
Turner Place has also given Phil and Rose the peace of mind that support is nearby should they need it. “My wife has limited mobility, which means she struggles to get about on her own. She spent a lot of her time bedbound and unable to climb the stairs before the move, so we knew we needed somewhere that could provide support and care when needed. We came to visit Turner Place and fell in love with it straight away. We’ve always liked Thatcham, so it felt like the right move for us. Our son lives close by too, so we can see more of his family, which really means a lot to us both.”
With beautiful, landscaped gardens and a courtyard area, a stylish communal lounge for socialising with friends and neighbours, a House Manager to keep an eye on things and a hotel style guest suite for family and friends, Turner Place provides an ideal downsizing option for retirees.
The William House Retirement Living Plus development offers all the same benefits of Turner Place, with a little extra help on hand should it be required. The development has an on-site Estate Manager and an experienced team on hand day and night to oversee the running of the development, and to provide tailored domestic support packages to suit individual needs. William House also features its own bistro style restaurant serving delicious, freshly prepared meals every day, as well as a luxurious wellness suite for hair and beauty treatments.