Welcome to the first blog on the new Dementia and Imagination website! I guess the first thing to say is those of us involved in this work, will be thrilled to have your input all the way along our journey.
But, just what is this project all about? Well, it’s a research project and for those of you not from a research background, this might not sound too interesting, but let me reassure you, IT IS!
More than that, if you are affected by memory loss in your family, you’ll be acutely aware just how important it is to find out more about how you, or the person you love, or support might have opportunities to live life beyond diagnosis. Like having new and exciting things to do that focus on the things you can do, and not any problems you might be experiencing.
So research? What’s that all about? Well, it’s not about finding a cure for dementia. That important work is being pursued by medical researchers. What we are doing, is looking at the potential of the visual arts to have an impact on wellbeing and the way we might engage in all sorts of creative and arts-based activity…and ultimately, how we can become less isolated and become more connected. Our research is all about how the arts might add to quality of life.
We know that there are lots of projects all over the world that engage people in singing, dancing and a wide range of cultural and leisure activity.
But what got us excited was the way a number of projects bring people affected by memory loss together, to appreciate art and to make art! So right now, in many countries, you’ll be able to find galleries and museums working with people who quite often have never had an interest in the arts, but find themselves excited to be creating, appreciating, critiquing and engaging in the visual arts.
We are just about to embark on this work and will be excited to share it with you, whatever your background. You can find all our details on the ‘Project Team’ section of the website but the key thing to know is that we are a mix of artists, psychologists, gerontologists – in fact, just about every ‘ist’ you can think of! But all of us are interested in finding out more about how the visual arts might enrich our lives – and how this might happen. Of course there’s more to it than that, so look in ‘The Project’ section, and you’ll get as much detail as you want.
Over the next year we’ll be working around North Wales, in North Derbyshire and in Newcastle with people affected by memory loss, those who care and those who work in services that support. We’ll be facilitating some arts workshops and we’ll be working with a team of artists and researchers to find out what happens when people get engaged in high quality arts activity.
At the same time we’ll also be working with some contemporary artists who will help us understand and tell this unfolding story and over 2015/2016 we’ll be having all sorts of exhibitions about our work and sharing some of the achievements people have made. Keep your eyes on this blog each month, as we aim to update it regularly.
Arts for Health
Manchester Metropolitan University