Art and Agency

Last night Deborah Feiler,  a visual art practitioner working for Alive! and closely involved with us on the project,  started reading “Winter Fires: Art and agency in old age” (published by The Baring Foundation, 2012). She wanted to share this quote,

“Children and young people want to be thought older than they are because with adulthood comes agency – the ability to act autonomously in the world, to make our own decisions, to pursue our desires, to write our own story. And it is the loss of agency, above all through mental incapacity, that is most feared as old age advances…..

But a capacity to create…is in all human beings, including those who do nothing to develop it after primary school. Art is a capacity for agency that….can flourish, indeed, in old age and help preserve individuality and autonomy to the very end.”

Winter Fires: Art and agency in old age, Baring Foundation | London Arts in Health Forum

Connected Communities Festival: Cardiff July 2014

Great news for the project today that our proposal for the Connected Communities Festival in Cardiff has been accepted.  The aims of our proposal were:

1. To create an immersive, portable installation, utilising novel tangible technologies and a set of dissemination materials, recreating a care home setting, in which audience members will be encouraged to:

  • engage meaningfully in thinking about community, object based story telling and tangible technologies in care home settings
  • drink tea, eat cake and engage in conversation with older people, academics and community experts working with us to discuss our experiences of being involved in co-produced research where technology is being co-designed with older people
  • experiment with and reflect on some of our novel technological prototypes to tell their own stories

2. The installation will enable us to user test some of our prototyped novel tangible technologies for storytelling with a wider audience and to collect data on the accessibility and effectiveness of the co-designed technologies.

3. To create an installation and dissemination materials that can be re-purposed to spread a message to policy makers, members of the public and academics about the need to re-imagine care homes of the future e.g. to develop ‘community’ in care, person centred care and the use of novel tangible technologies to enable stories and memories to be shared in care home settings and beyond.

4. To explore the practical and ethical challenges in including our older people in the dissemination of the project. E.g. How dementia friendly are these kind of events? How easy is it to navigate issues of accessibility?



A busy week

Thanks everyone for a great (and busy) TMP week!

Seana has been at BW doing individual interviews and a ‘day in the life’ of on Wednesday. She also ran a story telling session for residents which featured on the daily whiteboard and was really well received. Helen arrived to take over the ‘day in the life of’ at 3.30 and stayed around to visit residents in their room with a care worker  making them tea etc and then helping to host a games night in the lounge – loads of really interesting data to write up from these experiences,  I was given a rose and met some wonderful new residents there.

Tim and Seana also ran a session on music at BW on Tuesday morning and Tim, Seana and Helen at Stokeleigh on Tuesday afternoon – the Stokeleigh session was particularly inspiring for me as it was very much led by the residents who shared their favourite tracks which we all listened to and then discussed. Thanks Tim for leading that session so wonderfully!

Pete, Ki and Heidi hosted a trip to the engineering department for Bob from Stokeleigh Lodge. He loved the danish pastries and free pens and came back to Stokeleigh totally buzzing!

Helen also delivered a presentation about the project as part of an ‘ethics’ day at the Graduate School of Education – lots of comments and conversations about how ‘inspirational’ the project is from audience members.

Ki and Helen also met about the website and will be feeding back decisions made (based on our conversations at the Bitmap meeting) to Bitmap – so hopefully we’ll have a website up and running pretty soon.



What Are You To Me?

A few of us went and visited the installation “What Are You to Me?” in the Centrespace Gallery yesterday afternoon. In their own words:

What Are You To Me? Is an interactive multimedia installation that explores how we might remember the lives of our grandparents, taking audiences on their own personal journey through the fragmented re-imagining of three culturally diverse families. It is an archive of memories, where sights, sounds and smells become the trigger for audiences to access their own memories, wishes and regrets.

The installation provided a great opportunity for us to think about ways of triggering memories. Some ideas we discussed after the visit included:

  • The tags only contained a small amount of text but were really good at evoking a whole scene. Keeping stories short, or at least having a synopsis seems like a good idea.
  • The use of smells/odours/scents was really interesting when combined with the tags.

View through an old handheld slide viewer:

The smell library:

Tags and photos: