The Centenary of Caring Project: A co-created public art exhibition expressing how COVID-19 impacted on health and social care settings in East Anglia.

Centenary of Caring Project


  • Sally Hardy UEA
  • Jonathan Webster University of East Anglia (UEA)
  • Carolyn Jackson University of East Anglia (UEA)
  • Simon Willmoth Norwich University of the Arts (NUA)



Creative arts engagement, community, collaboration, COVID-19, mental wellbeing.


Background: The Centenary of Caring project was a collaborative arts-based activity, bringing together public, university and community-based practitioners, working across health and social care settings in the East of England. The project was co-facilitated by academics from the University of East Anglia in partnership with the Norwich University of Arts. 

Purpose/Aims: The aim was to co-create a public art exhibition, expressing impact and experience of the government enforced lockdowns during COVID-19, exploring what effect this enforced isolation had on local workforce communities’ wellbeing. The project objective was to capture how people living and working in our care settings had been affected by the pandemic.

Methods: A broad stakeholder perspective was sought, including the public, care home residents, health, and social care practitioners, students and academics as collaborating partners during early peaks of infection across the UK of the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., April – July 2020). The Centenary of Caring project enabled students, together with health and social care practitioners, to work together through online workshops to explore themes of psychological wellbeing and how creative expression enables reflection on lockdown experiences. The projects’ exhibition was a co-created as an on line display due to ongoing lockdown conditions. Co-produced using different forms of creative art (e.g., paintings, embroidery, poetry, design imagery, photography, video), works were curated as an online public exhibition, using an open access gallery.  

Key Findings: Engaging with creative arts enables and identifies an inclusive process from which to address and promote a positive influence on workplace environment. Few studies using co-production activities have attempted to bridge the gap between mental wellbeing and focused engagement with creative arts. 

Contributions: This programme of work seeks to further stimulate cross cultural interest for co-creating an evidence base needed to secure and improve investment in holistic aspects of wellbeing, through challenging and promoting positive engagement in mental health related aspects of creative arts engagement for psychological expression.


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