Pamela Baldacchino is a visual artist seeking to bring together her background in care and her art practice. She has graduated in Nursing Studies and followed a Masters in Digital Arts. She is currently working as an artist in residence at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, Mater Dei Hospital, and is a cultural manager with Deep Shelter, an ongoing sensory based project within the health sector.
Benna Chase is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist who works in Oncology and Palliative Care in the Oncology Hospital in Malta, having set up the Psycho-Oncology Services in 1995. She is also a visiting lecturer with the University of Malta and has a part-time private practice.
Ann Laenen studied Arts and Theatre Science at KU Leuven and obtained a PhD on Audience Development from the University of Leeds. She was appointed Dean of the Faculty of the Arts at KU Leuven in 2010. She currently teaches Active Design Processes and Design Thinking at the University of Malta. She is the coordinator of the Valletta 2018 Meeting Points Strand.
This research offers the first insights on how professionals and clients within the oncology support services at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, Mater Dei Hospital, Malta can use Deep Shelter, an art project, to reach an interior space of connectivity, leading to deep reflection and understanding.
Through a discursive practice, Dr. Benna Chase, principal psychologist and Pamela Baldacchino, artist in residence at the oncology support services, evaluated clients’ illness experiences in relation to their own social, cultural and political background (Flood, 2010).
Using an emergent theory approach, the thematic analysis gave rise to a co-lived journey thereby
giving a voice to the stories told by clients during the sessions. The process of externalisation, that is, a merging of presence, experience, narrative and position, leads to an embodiment of stories by the practitioner - researcher allowing therapeutic choices to be informed through the metaphor of art.
What emerges from this study is the need to ‘surrender’ to the natural progress of one’s body, more specifically to health and illness. This allows one to come to terms with what life offers, be it illness and death. Revealing the unconscious messages of living this intense loss can be enabled through connection with the self, the other and the collective. These three aspects of connection merge and intertwine, making it difficult to extricate the effects of one from the other. Rather, they work together so as to support the ill person in their evolution journey, making the solitary journey a supported one.