Monday, 5 December 2011

A Study Day at the Holburne Museum

On Monday 14th November, I took a day of holiday away from the worries of Personal Budget business. I have been looking for a PA to consolidate the team since the beginning of
September…I decided to complete the visit I had made last month, with Sandra my main PA, to view the exhibition on “Gainsborough Landscapes: Themes and Variations” curated by Dr Susan Sloman with a Study day introducing some experts on the period.

I had thought that my first ever visit as a wheelchair user with much needed assistance had gone on very smoothly. I had a heritage card as a resident of Bath and North East Somerset which availed me with a reduced concession rate and Sandra as my PA was with a free pass. It was a first for both of us as well as she had never visited the Holburne Museum before.

We not only were favourably impressed by my first use of my heritage card on entering this magnificent building but equally by the visitor facilities. All of this made both visits memorable; so much that I urge all to make a visit whilst the exhibition “Gainsborough Landscapes: Themes and Variations” lasts; so all could see what I am going on about.

After 3 years of closure the Holburne has re-opened having joined the 21th century at last! Before the re-opening, I would not have been able to visit this magnificent establishment as a wheelchair user; so I can only assume that it was not accessible or not suitable without assistance. I never tried before, not wanting the fatigue and frustration…

Now in the new extension there is a capacious lift with a very inspiring view of the garden which makes the visit definitely worthwhile especially viewing some rare landscapes of Gainsborough who is better known for the portraits of well-to-do people! The trees were striking and firmly printed in my eyes. I got back home and painted the following day and I completed a view of the Forest of Dean started in 2006. As my mobility diminished because of the progression of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I not only felt cut out of any involvement in the local community but I was not able to carry on with my hobby which is painting. I could never finish this painting, which was large and needed care as my medium was pastel.

Any notion of cognitive and cultural rehabilitation does not figure in a care plan written
by social services.

After a 3 year period of illness and struggling with the abominable
mismanagement of my transition from direct control of my care by Social
Services of Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES) to the empowering of
managing a Personal Budget for my care; I decided to include some visual art in
my life. Each of this type of visit will be a holiday! It is essential to include
cognitive and cultural rehabilitation of MS in all care plans as “A sound mind in a
sound body” is what people should desire in life.

We did enjoy the catering which also provided for the lunch during the study day.
Both occasions had very good food which is just to my taste and to Sandra’s. I
seem to be going on, but some accommodating area with tables was set aside
with a view of the park to make our stand-up buffet lunch possible. How very
thoughtful!

All visitors would agree that the attention to the washroom is very important. We
were both very impressed by the disabled toilet layout which was in full
compliance with both the Building Regulations Approved Document M 2004
edition and British Standard BS8300 for Wheelchair accessibility. Oh dear, my
pet hate is to find one that is not! I have taken a BaNES councillor to the loos
before! There is no need for that at the Holburne Museum! The highlight was to
find a Dyson airblade well positioned to dry my hands, all very civilized. It saves
waste, carbon and time. So there was more time left for art.

Nothing was spared to make art accessible to all at the Holburne Museum! We
are grateful.