Art Exhibition Demonstrates Talents of People with Intellectual Disabilities


A new temporary exhibition of art by people with intellectual disabilities opened at the historical Syon House in Brentford, on Friday 26th August.

Branching Paths is an exhibition of artworks made by a group of local artists, organised as part of Hounslow Borough Council’s Summer of Culture

The exhibition brings together a collection of works made in weekly sessions over several years at the Connect@ Hounslow Hub of Caritas St Joseph’s. Each session began by the group looking at and responding to the work of different artists before returning to their own themes. With the help of carers and volunteers, the artists work across ceramics, oil pastel and watercolour to develop their process, crafting their own distinct visual language. 

Three of the artists were able to attend the launch event on Friday, along with family, friends and staff and volunteers from Caritas St Joseph’s and Syon House. We celebrated the work of all the artists and were privileged to see the reactions of the three who attended – the pride in their work, and modesty in accepting praise and being photographed alongside their art.

  • Faiza Mir’s work always features circles. She said that she found these easy to draw, and it seems that this confidence helps her to enjoy her art. At the classes, Faiza draws and colours variations of circles each week with focus and determination, and enjoys using bright colours.
  • Alexander Harrison is a prolific artist who works methodically and at pace. He enjoys mixing colours carefully to be sure of the right colour pallet for each piece. There is often a rhythm in his paintings which he describes in the recurring names of his work: “stones”, “tunnels”, “thunder” and “lightning”. His verbal language is limited, but the pride he shows in his work is evident.
  • Ani Hampartsoumain also attended the event and proudly showed us her piece based on her favourite Anime film “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”. Ani works quickly and with precision, and includes a large amount of detail in her art.
  • Susanna Woollam uses delicate, barely- there strokes to create her highly detailed observational work, often of flowers. A lot of care goes into all her pictures and they often have an ethereal look, like gossamer or lace. Susanna has many “moments”, when she is very focussed and in an artistic flow. However, according to the class tutor, Susannah also loves to sing “You Raise Me Up” by Westlife at the end of each class, signing along to the chorus alongside one of the dedicated volunteers, Derek.

The works exhibited in Branching Paths are a celebration of different perspectives and of the creative journeys the students are on, as individuals and as a group. It has been made possible by Hounslow Borough through their Summer of Culture programme.

Karen Palmer, Development worker for Connect@ said: “On the day of the opening at Syon Park we held an Art Class in the morning at Feltham, the students were very excited about the exhibition. The Connect through Art Classes give our Students a way to express themselves through different art forms and creative media. It has been a pleasure to work alongside our talented artists, and my colleague Stephanie, who curated the exhibition, as well as our very dedicated volunteers Maria and Derek.”

Branching Paths includes artworks made by Ani Hampartsoumian, Alexander Harrison, Rosemary Mahoney, Faiza Mir and Susanna Woollam, plus two artists who prefer to remain anonymous. 

The art is on display at Syon Park Visitor Centre until 30th October. 

One of the artists, Rachel Palmer, included a poem alongside her Wassily Kandinsky inspired artwork. The poem is an acrostic based on the words “Summer of Culture” 

Summer is the best time of year
Under the ocean & Sea
Marvellous place to be
Many people can join
Everyone loves it there
Round circles and pointy triangles
Orange red blue or it doesn’t matter what do you think
Full of fun and excitement
Caring for everyone
Under the great blue sea
Loving place
Tomorrow is another day
Union for this place
Ready set get to paint
Everybody’s favourite place to be
Rachel's picture is based on a famous Kandinsky painting
One of Rosemary's pictures

As well as the drawings and paintings, a number of items of pottery are displayed at the exhibition at Syon House. These have been created at pottery classes at Caritas St Joseph’s by Chris Clements, Andrew Lyons, Barbara Dubberley, Jaimini Raval, Jake Chodosh, Francis Ryan, Frazer Coutinho, Niaz Ghanizadeh, Stephen Miller and Nikita Naghibi

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