Thursday, 16 March 2017
Dementia and Creativity: Brainstorming Workshop
Remember I made all the new mini-concertinas for my new residency? Well, I got stuck in painting the first of them last week. That initial session was a workshop: a brainstorming day with a group of academics from different universities who are working on the project, to formulate ideas around the theme of Dementia and Creativity, gathering thoughts, ready for putting in a much larger bid for a major project in the future.
My role was two-fold. Firstly, I was there in my usual capacity, as artist-in-residence, recording proceedings and trying to get across the feel of the day. It was a very casual set-up, unlike similar events from last year's residency. Instead of a soulless university room, Dr Balmer had booked a space in Hulme Community Garden Centre.
I filled two of my new books, which wasn't too bad going, since I only spent half my time sketching. My other role was to take part in the discussions, to give the artist's perspective. It was absolutely fascinating. That's one of the reasons I love this new style of work.
We used a technique called World Café to begin, working in groups of 3 or 4, discussing questions such as 'What is creativity?' and 'How does creativity figure in the lives of people with dementia?', moving from group to group, recording our thoughts on big sheets of paper. As the day progressed, there were larger group discussions too, considering issues such as methods for measuring creativity and creative research methods. Sometimes I drew, sometimes I took part.
In the afternoon, I joined a small group again, to think about unusual ideas for using creativity to enrich the lives of dementia sufferers. We came up with a few possible projects, but the tricky bit is measuring outcomes - it's such a subjective area and any changes you make to people's existence can be subtle, transitory and tricky to prove after the event.
I have a gap before my next day on this project, while the other participants develop the ideas we generated into more detailed ideas for bid possibilities.
In the meantime, I have a couple of days of sketching on another project - also an extension of the work I did during my residency last year. This is more work on the menthol project, recording people's attitudes to synthesised menthol in the products they use every day. My first day in on Saturday.