For the next six weeks we are making art with the residents of St Peter’s House most of whom have moderate to late stage dementia. This work is funded by the Arts Council and David Nettleton’s Suffolk County Councillor locality budget.
We are aiming to create an art garden with added gardening support from the Bury in Bloom Senior Green Fingers initiative. Along the way we hope to explore the artistic process in a really open-ended way so we can personalise the experience for each individual we’re working with. This is also a learning experience for us as artists and at St Peter’s we have had excellent guidance from occupational therapist, Gill Bosely.
This week we wanted to introduce ourselves and the idea of creating a garden and to find out what the residents enjoy about gardens. We brought along a range of garden resources concentrating on actual objects that could be handled rather than images.
It seemed that people were as interested in garden wildlife as plants and there were a few stories told about garden visitors. We encouraged people to choose something from the table that was interesting to them and to use the materials on the table try out some drawing or collaging in response to that item. As demonstrated by the images below many people were fascinated by the gerbera flower and enjoyed close looking and discussion of the shapes, colours and textures. One lady was absorbed by the bright yellow reverse side of the orange petals.
We found drawing alongside, helping people to start making marks and using an object as a template or for rubbing texture were successful ways to engage with the activity.