We are in the process of creating our second interactive book, this time with one of the residents at Blaise Weston Court. It will be a collection of memories, photos and stories from her life. As before, the finished book will contain AR triggers, which allow you to listen to her recalling memories of her mother, the music she loved during the war, and lots of other audio clips and films to add depth to the text and images.
We have been visiting for the past six weeks to build up material that will make up her book. Each session has had a particular focus, such as food, music or clothing. From our conversations each week we have compiled a series of pages, taking text from things she has written and transcriptions of her words to show snippets and memories from her life.
The next stage will be to work with her to decide on which order she wants the pages. As with our first book, The Eye of the Hare, we are interested in juxtaposing memories from different times in her life, rather than displaying them in chronological order, to reflect the fragmented nature of memory. This process of ordering will also allow her to highlight any gaps or significant events/times that she would like to include.
Co-designing is helping us to develop a blueprint of tasks that we hope eventually can be followed by other older people and their carers/relatives who want to create their own books.
We were also pleased today when she said how much she was enjoying the process. She said it has helped her to remember all kinds of things that were buried, going right back to her childhood.
This is a photo of her that she sent to her husband in 1944, when he was stationed in Holland during WWII.
Some photo’s of the finished first book that we made with Pip Heywood, mine and Lucy’s dad. We are now working on similar books with Cath and Bob from Blaise Western.
We had never made a print on demand book before, so wanted to test it out before we start working with people in the care homes to create their own reminiscence books.
Barney and I are brother and sister, but we also work regularly with other members of our family, including our parents, Pip and Ali Heywood. We developed a show with our Dad Pip last year, called The Eye of the Hare, which is an autobiographical piece about aspects of his life. It’s a one-man show with him on stage reading extracts and stories from a book he has been writing combined with film and audio clips.
As we have all the material and multimedia for The Eye of the Hare already, we decided to use that to create our initial prototype book. So, the three of us got together with the script and media from the show and tried to figure out how to turn it into an interactive book. Continue reading
While visiting relatives in London, I took the opportunity to pop in to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to see this fascinating display about memory techniques.
‘In the age of the internet we rarely rely on the skill of remembering, but systems to assist memory were once essential. One of the oldest is the Memory Palace, which requires picturing a familiar building, then placing vivid images within it. When you imagine walking through the building, the images trigger the facts you want to recall. The technique comes from an ancient Greek story about a banqueting hall that collapsed, crushing the guests beyond recognition. The poet Simonides was able to identify each guest by mentally walking around the table and visualizing them.
Cicero and Quintilian described the Memory Palace in their treatises on rhetoric, which were influential in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. In the 19th century, when education involved rote-learning facts and figures, different memorising systems evolved and were promoted through lectures, manuals and children’s card games.
But Simonides’ simple and personal technique still appeals. For a mnemonic setting we might use, rather than a banqueting hall, our home, a place characterized by strong visual, sensual and emotional recollections. This display explores the art of remembering, as well as the idea of home as a Memory Palace.’