Thursday, 20 September 2012

The many uses of a rolling pin

I often feel guilty about the collections of objects I have gathered over the years - and the dust that they collect - however, yesterday a few started to earn their keep. Phil and I were in Oldham for the Making Memories project, working with older people at The Grange Supported Housing and at High Barn Day Centre. Reminiscence; loose poetic forms and printmaking were inspired by the objects.

The Old Fire Range, monoprint, Eunice Booth

Over the course of the project we want to look at how people respond to 'real' objects as opposed to photos of objects. Does handling an object, feeling its weight, texture, dimensions even smelling it, prompt a deeper more meaningful memory? My instincts say that a real object will be more powerful than a photo.

There will be other factors to take into account, each individual will have a different relationship with the objects shown, depending on their own histories. One day to another we can all respond differently to the same objects - additionally, each group  of people creates a unique dynamic which affects responses. Finally, each dementia is dissimilar and at various stages of progression, making another layer of subjectivity.

Yvette's measuring spoon, rolling pin, mixing bowl and board, monoprint.

In the afternoon I only used a small fraction of the objects I brought - all on the theme of cooking. The Turkey Baster inspired some interesting discussion around its possible uses- it seems that providing some more un-familiar objects in the box might be quite useful. The Palette Knife didn't get much response - except the desire to flick icing across the room! The object that got the most reaction to was the Rolling Pin,  a simple object that many people have in their kitchen, which sparked conversation and demonstrations. Irene commented: 'When you see things like this, it brings all sorts of memories, to hold it is totally different than looking at a photo, it brings back memories- I used it to stamp potatoes, roll pastry, wave at the children - that rolling pin came in quite handy.' 

The reminiscence seemed to help distract those participants caught in a loop of conversation or thinking, giving them a break and something else to focus on.

In the coming weeks we would like to try using some of the cooking utensils and make some scones, letting smell and taste become part of this exploration. And Phil likes scones, especially cherry scones...

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