The Royal Adelaide Hospital’s (RAH) main concourse will be turned into a makeshift garden of paper flowers as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival performance, Quiet Time: Garden Club.
Supported by The Hospital Research Foundation Group charity Creative Health, the interactive performance is the brainchild of local actor Ashton Malcolm and is designed to humanise an otherwise clinical setting.
Previous concepts have been co-devised with local performance-maker Josephine Fitzgerald, and included a makeshift florist and post office. This year a ‘Garden Club’ theme has been adopted.
Ashton said it was inspired by her own love of gardening and the therapeutic benefit it has for her.
“I try and get in the shoes of someone who is having to spend a lot of time in hospital and for me, I think one thing that I would really miss is being in the garden and getting to be outside,” she said.
“Making a garden out of paper is about exploring how can we invoke the feeling of being outside and bringing it inside.”
Taking place across three days, Ashton has teamed up with dancer and performance-maker Zoe Dunwoodie and guitarist Elliot Howard for this year’s performance.
Starting at 11am, the makeshift garden stall will begin in the main concourse, with passersby encouraged to drop by and make their own bouquet of paper flowers or simply stop for a chat.
At midday and 1pm, the gardeners will emerge in the central courtyard for some extra magic as Zoe, who danced for many years with the Australian Dance Theatre, will create improvised performances with Ashton.
“The idea is to have something in the hospital that is a bit different to normal, a bit of a pleasant surprise,” Ashton said.
“It will also be very gentle; we are just there if people want to come and hang out.”
This year marks the third time Ashton has teamed up with Creative Health after debuting the performance in 2020.
The concept draws on Ashton’s time as a performer with the Starlight Children’s Foundation and is crafted to provide positive distraction for patients, staff and hospital visitors.
“I’ve been so happy to notice that the last two times we have done Quiet Time at the RAH, we’ve been warmly welcomed as a positive distraction, something to focus on that’s not being in hospital,” she said.
“It is really gentle moments of interaction. Think of it like approaching a craft table, it is a chance to come and make something really beautiful.”
Central Adelaide Local Health Network Executive Director for Allied Health, Chris King, said: “We know being in a hospital can be hard on both patients and their families, particularly for our longer-term patients.
“There is well researched evidence to show the benefits of complementary therapy such as arts and music in improving the quality of life for patients.
“We are thankful that we can have the opportunity to bring some fringe flavour to the Royal Adelaide Hospital this year.”
Quiet Time: Garden Club will take place from February 20 to February 22, from 11am to 2pm, and is a free event.