Retirement living resident, Maureen Grickage, says rediscovering her love of painting and being able to express this passion alongside friends at Bentley Park, "really saved me."
When Maureen Grickage’s beloved husband Rod passed away 10 years ago, she knew that she didn’t want to stay living on her own in the family home.
Her family started looking at alternatives for their mum, and wanted to know that not only would she be safe, but also well cared for and part of a vibrant community. They stopped looking as soon as they found SwanCare Bentley Park.
Maureen said she loves living in the village, and through the Art Group, has managed to rediscover her passion for creativity.
“When I first moved to SwanCare, I was grieving for the first year, so I didn’t want to take part in anything,” Maureen explained, “But when I felt ready, I joined the Art Group. I’ve always painted but it’s different when it’s with such happy people, it really saved me.”
From the second her paintbrush hits the canvas, Maureen says her mood can completely change, “When I start to paint, it’s uplifting; I go to another place. It’s very calming and must be good for your heart,” she said.
Now as the Art Group’s Coordinator, Maureen helps to organise outings and experiences for the whole club to enjoy, “We’ve taken trips to the WA Art Gallery and WA Water Colours in Fremantle. We’re all very passionate about art so we thoroughly enjoy our tips, especially when we get to talk and paint with other artists,” she said, “You lose track of time when you’re doing something you love.”
When reflecting on how her artistic flair came about, Maureen said that she can’t remember a time when she didn’t paint or draw, “I was always that little girl who asked for a paint box or colouring in pens for Christmas, and I was oh so happy with that.”
After studying art and landing a role as a sign writer, which was unusual for a woman at the time, Maureen eventually went back to university and achieved a degree in Art Therapy, later working as an art therapist for the MS Society.
“It was wonderful to help people express themselves through art. When you’re helping someone paint and they’re holding a paint brush in their mouth, it’s hard to not be amazed by that and what people can create. Art is wonderful therapy.”
Maureen moved to Australia with her parents in 1962, they lived in Cloverdale but originally haled from Liverpool.
“My dad was a bricklayer, so he found work easily here. I was one of seven children and mum was a talented seamstress who made all of our clothes, we never had hand me downs,” she said.
“I’ve been back to the UK a number of times, but always when it was wet and cold, that’s when I knew Australia was home. I also met my husband Rod in Australia a few weeks after we landed. We both had the same holiday job.”
Maureen and Rod have three children, Peter, Natalie and Kevin, “They all live fairly close and they look after me, I’m very lucky. I also have four grandchildren and two great grandchildren, they are wonderful.”
“One of my granddaughter’s, Lauren, is a great artist, we’ve painted together. I also have a great granddaughter who is four and loves putting colours together. I think she’ll be a talented artist, she’s got a brilliant eye.”
When she isn’t busy coordinating the Art Group, she can also be found running the SwanCare Allsorts Choir. Maureen says there is something really special about being part of these groups, “Although they’re old-fashioned words, it all comes down to fellowship and companionship. You’re doing something you enjoy, with people who share your interests.”
Maureen encourages everyone to get involved with the hobbies they enjoy at SwanCare, explaining how it can give you a renewed purpose and sense of belonging, “There’s a strong community here and if you’re going through something, you feel like you’re in a safe place to get through it and make good friends.”
“I think the name says it all at SwanCare, they care and it’s more than a job. I worked for 30 odd years in the health industry and the health staff here are incredible, they’re beyond good. The staff are never rushed and if you need anything, there’s always a follow up.”
Maureen loves living at SwanCare and says she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, “I have friends living in other villages and when I tell them of all we have access to here, they think I’m lying because it’s so good!” Maureen laughed.
“I feel safe and supported here, which is so important. It gives me peace of mind and it gives my children peace of mind, and that’s worth so much to all of us.”
Thank you, Maureen, for sharing your story with us. We love having you part of our SwanCare community!