Art installation featuring 40,138 paper flowers created to mark Carers Rights Day

The flowers represent the number of unpaid carers in Bristol recorded on the 2011 census.

Claire Hayhurst
Wednesday 23 November 2022 13:30 GMT
The installation has gone on display in a shopping centre (Ben Birchall/PA)
The installation has gone on display in a shopping centre (Ben Birchall/PA)

An art installation featuring 40,138 handmade paper flowers is on display to mark Carers Rights Day.

Each of the flowers, at the Galleries shopping centre in Bristol, represents an unpaid carer in the city.

Carina Andrews, 28, a carer herself, created the project to highlight the work of unpaid carers.

She made around 15,000 of the flowers in the installation, with others crafted by volunteers and groups across the UK.

The flowers are now on display in a mock up of her parents living room, featuring a downstairs bed, commode and boxes of medication.

Posters detailing the experiences of carers in Bristol are on the walls of the space.

Ms Andrews told the PA news agency that flowers were chosen to represent carers as they “need care themselves, are delicate and are living”.

She said: “The idea is that it is a living room that has had to be adapted to become a bedroom for someone with a disability.

“Many houses have stairs to the bedroom and so once someone becomes physically disabled, they are unable to use the upstairs of their house and have to live downstairs.

“The layout is the size of my parents’ living room. It is squeezing in the bed, the commode, the wheelchair, the added equipment that comes with disability and trying to make someone as comfortable as possible.

“It is also the space for the family to watch TV, play games and be together. This could happen to anybody at any point.”

Ms Andrews, who founded the not-for-profit project Invisible Army, spoke of the isolation many carers feel and the difficulty of the role with school, friends and work.

“When I reached out for help, people would say ‘you are not on your own, you are in a similar situation to 40,000 people in Bristol’,” she added.

“I thought ‘what is 40,000?’. It’s 1,000 times my old classroom. I wanted to make a visualisation of that number and make the point that each flower is unique and individual, and each story is too.”

She said the figure of unpaid carers in Bristol was probably now much larger than the 40,138 recorded in the 2011 census.

Lots of people walk into the installation and think it is overwhelming

Carina Andrews

“Lots of people walk into the installation and think it is overwhelming,” Ms Andrews added.

“But it is happening now and we need to start listening to unpaid carers.

People need to have a voice, we need to show them and make them seen.”

According to the 2011 census, there are 6.5 million people in the UK providing unpaid care.

Carers Rights Day, taking place on Thursday, is to bring organisations across the country together to help carers know their rights and discover how to access help and support.

The 40,138 exhibition is on display at the Galleries shopping centre in Broadmead, Bristol, until December 12.

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