Friday, 8 March 2013

You can have my teeth

We're working with Gallery Oldham to expand the possibilities of memory boxes in reminiscence, devising creative exercises.

Doreen's moustache March 2013

We've been using lateral thinking methods for our workshops. Reminiscence tends to work along certain lines and themes with the outcomes reduced to safe bits of nostalgia.

We've found that bringing off-the-wall thinking to the workshops keeps things interesting for us and for the participants. It's also a way for people to express their opinions, make their mark. Lives and history don't necessarily fit into neat little boxes. What we're trying to do is find the personal, the individual stories that weave into a broader tale. That is what makes for good art an it is also what makes for insightful history too – the retelling of the familiar, the finding of new meanings.

'nibbling apples' Rosemary March 2013
Much of our inspiration comes from 'concrete poems', sometimes called shape poems, and we used that approach today. Lois created some templates based on dentists' teeth charts. Participants wrote a letter into each tooth, spelling out first the name of a favourite sweet and then a dentist-related word, alternating them until all the teeth were filled. It's a straightforward word game, a little like doing a crossword. To our delight, the afternoon group – many of whom have dementias – enjoyed this exercise greatly. Some people picked words that linked together to tell a story, others were content to be more random.

In the morning and afternoon, we played a word association game. Playing takes pressure off, asking questions like 'What's the first thing that comes to mind?' dodges people's fear of not being able to remember.  Avoiding approaches that make a closed success/failure outcome is a good policy. There's no right or wrong if the whole thing is done in the spirit of play and a joke. Word association  can bring a great focus because it's so immediate. Not so long sentences or circuitous openers or complex questions. Our group of people with dementias were fully engaged – leaning in concentrating, waiting on the next word...

Here's some of the material from the word associations:

you can have my teeth

they're falling out all the time


tooth fairy

baby teeth

under the carpet

under the rug

put salt with em

otherwise the fairy can't

leave sixpence

a farthing

a threpenny, don't spend it all at once

screw it in permanent

collecting coins for a mouthful

a farthing a wren

a sixpence a tanner

the old bob with the old king on it shiny

to pay the dentist

(group poem, extract)


Make a simple templates based on dentists' teeth charts (see above). Participants write a letter into each tooth, spelling out first the name of a favourite sweet and then a dentist-related word, alternating them until all the teeth are 'filled'. It's a word game, a little like doing a crossword, which can bring poetic results.

1 comment:

Ed Baker said...

this IS
what y'all are doing

not so much "off-the-wall"
(( (as you posit "it")
but, rather, ( (as I (or they) )

see things as mind-stuff
is also real )))


'out-of-the-box' ?

where The Void is
empty of ....

these things seen-in-mind
,it seems to me,
are just tools with which
we begin to transition into
(just) another reality or Silence ?