Yesterday for the project in Four Acre St Helens, Phil, Joanne and I spent the morning at Kershaw Day Centre working with people diagnosed with dementia. As ever on a first visit to a new venue I felt a mix of excitement and apprehension, but all concerns quickly disappeared as we were met by wonderfully welcoming Gary Conley, who quickly settled us in with cups of tea and introductions to staff. As we talked Gary pointing out with great pride the potters wheel, he talked of wanting to try out new things with this art group, of pushing the boundaries and raising expectations.
As participants arrived we formed a group around the tables and started chatting about food and cooking. Our mouths soon were watering with talk of Pimlets Pies and homemade baked custards. For the poetry and art work we focussed our attentions on cakes, pies and biscuits, and after a very lively discussion (which the staff seemed to enjoy as much as the participants) we divided up into smaller groups to select individual lines to write onto card cakestands.
Some participants decided to draw their memories rather than to write about them. John worked through double vision to produce these beautiful drawings of fruit cakes and bananas.
Later I collected signatures for a layer of cakestand, although we all might sign our names less (with the loss of checks and emailing replacing writing letters) the writing of a signature is something most of us take for granted. However with memory loss or/and double vision, for many of the group the simple act of signing a name became an activity that needed great concentration and focus. Their struggle and determination made the work even more poignant.
For more photos please visit http://www.flickr.com