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Top illustrator Jason draws on experience to brighten lives of care home residents

Pendine Park Care Homes Illustrator Jason Bennion leads a new art workshop at Highfield, Summerhill Wrexham Jason shares a joke with Harold Butcher who painted a bus

An award winning international illustrator has taken on a new role to brighten the lives of  care home residents through the “magic of art”.

Jason Bennion has moved in a completely new direction from corporate design, leading artistic workshops at Pendine Park in Wrexham as their new creative arts consultant.

The talented freelance artist and professional illustrator who graduated with a first class honours degree from Cardiff University has previously worked in high flying business circles. 

Since launching his career in 1998 he has produced highly sought after designs for an array of top flight commercial companies and editorial magazines at home and abroad.

His past work included being a lead illustrator on a major lighting campaign for Dutch multinational conglomerate Philips. That ad campaign won him a prestigious industry award which was presented at a glittering ceremony in Birmingham. 

Jason also worked over a period of 10 years on editorial illustrations for MEED, a trailblazing English language Middle East business intelligence magazine.

He greatly enjoys the problem-solving challenges of corporate design, but despite his background of success in that field, he said his latest move to Pendine Park is his most satisfying yet.

He said: “There is no reward more generous or deeply felt than seeing the smiles on residents faces as I assist them with an artwork of their own making. 

“My admiration for people who work in the care sector is second to none and I feel honoured to be given the chance to lead this new series of arts workshops at Pendine Park’s care homes.”

Jason was only recently recruited to join the social care organisation’s enrichment activities team to strengthen its already widely acclaimed arts and creativity provision.

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He is the partner of Pendine Park group’s long-standing Artist in Residence Sarah Edwards.

Sarah also studied art at Cardiff University and graduated with a first class degree.

In the past Jason has often volunteered to help her when an extra pair of hands was needed for some of her arts and crafts projects run by Pendine Park.

As result he already knows a number of the residents to speak to and has become a familiar face to them.

So, when Pendine Park director Gill Kreft asked if he would be prepared to join the company’s enrichment team on a more formal basis as their creative arts consultant Jason leapt at the chance.

He said: “It is such a wonderful place here. Having visited many times I have always been impressed with the way that proprietors, Gill and her husband Mario Kreft, invest so much time and energy in bringing the pleasure of the arts, crafts and music to all the residents. 

“The activities included in the enrichment programme are, exactly as its name suggests, extremely enriching for all who take part and I am now so excited to be a part of the team which makes that happen.”

Mario and Gill have long been committed to bringing the benefits of art and music to residents and staff. Some years ago, they also established the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT) which supports a whole host of cultural and community activities.

Jason’s arrival has inspired a one-time watercolour painting enthusiast to pick up her paintbrushes again.

Like Jason, Marion Billington is also an award winner, albeit as an amateur painter. She once scooped top prize for best beginner at a local art competition in Ellesmere, near Wrexham.

Marion only recently moved to Pendine Park’s Cae Bryn care home in Summerhill and she says she is overjoyed that her move there has coincided with the start of Jason’s new series of art classes.

She said it was a great chance to pick up her art hobby again after a couple of decades consigning her palette and brushes to the store cupboard.

She said: “I took up art when I was quite a bit younger, maybe aged 40 to 45, I forget. But I did it for about five years, taking classes led by a retired art teacher who was extremely helpful to me. I so enjoyed it at the time and took great pleasure in learning all the different artistic techniques needed to paint with watercolours.”

But she said circumstances changed and she became busy in other areas of her life and so her art hobby got put to one side.

Marion, who worked as a secretarial assistant with an architect’s business, said: “It wasn’t that I lost my enthusiasm, it’s just that time ran away with me and other activities took over my attention.”

But now she is thrilled to be rekindling her love of watercolour painting, thanks to the help of Jason.

Even though he was only recruited a few weeks ago Jason has already developed an easy repartee with Marion and other residents, who are all keen to learn new skills from him.

Sarah Edwards explained: “Even after just a few sessions we are finding that the classes are hugely popular. A number of our residents who have attended at Highfield have really taken to him. They have even been asking ‘Is Jason coming in today?’ on the days when he’s not here. 

Sarah has since supported the development of award-winning enrichment programmes at Pendine Park’s eight care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon where she has also masterminded their interior design.

She said: “I will still be running my regular arts workshops with our residents but Jason’s input will now give me extra time to focus on some other activities including further initiatives focused around enrichment training.”