Our project making memories, is all about finding new creative ways with Memory Boxes. Following on from our reminiscence art session about dancing at Limecroft, I decided to try out a mash-up of two drawing exercises, combining an exercise inspired by the artist Paul Klee famous quote about drawing 'taking a line for a walk', and drawing/mark making drawing/play to music.
Limecroft is a respite home for people with dementia. Music has often shown a dramatic effect on people with dementia, it can soothe, stimulate and bring to mind long forgotten memories. It seems to reach parts of the damaged brain that other forms of communication cannot.
I brought along a variety of music, from classical to jazz to Frank Sinatra to Latin to The Beach Boys. Each track brought a slightly different atmosphere, a different tempo. I encouraged individuals to 'play a game', to explore the materials and make marks on the paper that express a response to the musical sounds, rather than drawing what they see, they were drawing what they feel.
For this group it was a success, one man at first sat with arms crossed, refusing to pick up the wax crayons, however witnessing the others joining in, soon was fully engaged himself in the activity and became one of the most prolific of the group.
We started really gently, passing one crayon from person to person quickly turning the large scary blank paper into something more friendly- and then as peoples confidence grow, they chose their own colours and started their own play. Without prompting some of the group started doodling with their lines, finding inspiration out of the lines and music to create faces, or animals.. I believe these exercises are a great way of building confidence in self expression, getting over the fear factor of drawing, challenging our understanding of what drawing is, are fun and stimulating.
And I would definitely encourage anyone putting together a memory box, to include a wide range of music in there, and keep refreshing it, to activate parts of the brain that other activities can't and just get the toes tapping.
This time I used wax crayons- I wanted something bright and cheerful, however this drawing exercise would also work really well in: charcoal, paint, inks, pencils, pastels, pens... a variety of materials to give different marks on the paper, encouraging smudging, dotting, scribbling, pressing hard with your material or soft, rubbing out, the list is endless...