There are lots of different ways of creating memory boxes, as part of my project ‘working memories’ I am undertaking some research into different approaches.
Memory boxes generally contain a selection of social history objects, photographs and other resources that can be used as memory prompts.
For older people, particularly those with dementia, using memory boxes can bring pleasure, trigger warm memories, stimulate and use of them has the potential to lift depression and improve communication.
A clear guide to memory boxes can be found at http://www.gem.org.uk
A different more creative approach comes from ‘Making Memories Matter’, from The European Reminiscence Network, started in 2004 “has involved artists from 7 countries working with individual older people to create ‘Life Portraits’ or ‘Memory Boxes’ around their life experience. Over 100 boxes have been created, recycling ammunition cases and giving them a peaceful and creative use. Each box has an accompanying text explaining the contents, putting the display in the wider context of the older participants life and giving the artist’s perspective.” Some revealing ‘Making Memories Matter’ videos can be found on YouTube http://www.youtube.com And http://www.youtube.com
General information about Making Memories Matter is found at http://www.age-exchange.org.uk/
My plan is an Artist Residency spread over 6 months in Day Care Centres and a hospital for older people including those diagnosed with dementia, in rural Peak District. During my residency I will create illustrated reminiscence boxes for use in the host venues, and digital versions for care settings throughout the region. I aim to sit and draw the memories of older people directly as they speak them, forming a unique collaboration. It can be a interesting experience for someone watching an artist drawing/creating artwork- breaking down the boundaries between the artist and the audience, demystifying the process of making art.