Creative Dementia Arts Conference 2016


This years conference was at St Hugh’s College, Oxford 14th and 15th April 2016.

My original proposal for this MA  ( as I remember it!) was  based on autobiographical and collective memory and I had some idea, I think, of linking my community -based work with my practice. I’ll explore how these links have developed and unravelled in another post but I’m including this resume of the conference to reference specific uses of digital technology and also a project I became aware of that I will follow up in the future, post-MA.

From a Networking Point of view the conference is always useful meeting with colleagues, Clare Carswell who is Lights Up Co-ordinator.

Lights up is a Monthly arts group for people with Dementia and their carers in West Oxfordshire. I have worked with the group on several occasions and work from the group was exhibited at an exhibition in January, curated and installed by Clare.

Hannah Cervenka ( who Co-ordinates Taking Part which helps to fund Community practice in the area) and Paula Bailey ( who I worked with on the Banbury Old Town Party community event for several years).  Both are Arts Development Officers for Cherwell District Council,  Karey Morley, who facilitates the ‘Times Gone By’ Reminiscence group at  Banbury Museum were also there and I had a great discussion about Community Practice with Pam Foley, sculptor amongst others.

Frames of Mind

The key elements of the Conference for me were the Workshop by Salmagundi Films , a not for profit arts organisation founded in 2004 by Zoe Flynn and Bo Chapman and based in Stratford, East London

Their workshop highlighted their use of iPads for people with dementia in care homes, framesofmind_300.png

“Frames Of Mind® (FOM) is our concept of using Stop Frame Animation as a therapeutic communication tool. With Animation anything can happen. It is a creative process which encourages the use of visual metaphors, to think outside the box, and this liberation from the ‘literal’ can enable participants to explore and communicate potentially difficult or sensitive issues.”

There is an article published in Dementia Care which gives further insight into their work.


I have tried to introduce Google Maps as a Reminiscence tool but have limited success. Working as a sole practitioner is  restrictive unless I work 1:1 or 1:2 which isn’t possible in the places where I work or with the groups that I facilitate, at the moment.

In the case of Frames of Mind there was funding to include Care staff in the project for training and supply of iPads to the homes for (in theory) a sustainable project. This goes back to the need discussed in a past post about working as an individual rather than a company…for funding and commissioning purposes.

For the future this may be the only way for me to go as a Community Artist……

We worked through the process of making a personal portrait and also saw how Stop Frame animation could used to make short autobiographical films for  people with dementia using personal objects or photos.

I don’t have an iPad but will invest in one, play around with the drawing apps and some stop-frame  and introduce the technology to some individuals and staff in the groups I work with. Too good an opportunity to miss. Again it will have to wait a little while.

The hand- held quality of the iPad really helps make the experience intimate and personal. Much more so than a lap-top which  can  seem too threatening to much older people.

UAL and Dementia Research

In one of the (many) leaflets I picked up There was a call for Papers for the Royal Society for Public Health Conference in 2017 on the Arts and Dementia. For the therapeutic nature of the arts to be recognised and researched is  a huge leap. The Research is both Qualitative and Quantitative which means it  can be used to attract funding and help reduce other costs! Dr. Hannah Zeilig from London College of Fashion, UAL is one of the Organising Committee for the Conference.

Again something to Research when the MA is  completed  to  consolidate my personal and community practice.


Ironstone Prize 2016


Every 2 years the local Banbury Museum holds an Open Exhibition.

I usually enter 3 items and one is accepted. Mostly the work selected is fairly traditional, well-crafted paintings, drawings and sculpture with some occasional exceptions.

I submit work for a few reasons

  • It is my local art show
  • I like to gently challenge the way entries are restricted by the means of display
  • I want to offer more conceptual work and encourage others to do so
  • I don’t mind being rejected!

This year I struggled to find work which may be acceptable as I recognise curation is important and creating a cohesive show is essential.

I was going to submit a couple of edited video sketches made in the first term ( Michaelmas and Number three )

However, one used background soundtrack  of Sibelius’ Finlandia during the video recording (it was important for the work that this was not an overlaid track but part of the performance).

I didn’t have the original CD used during the performance and so there were copyright issues…not picked up incidentally by YouTube.. so after much searching the studio I couldn’t use it an acknowledge the source ( A lesson learnt to record the sources of material used…or beware!)

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 16.28.28

Then I decided to edit the video piece The Reading Room as I thought

  • It was too long for the audience
  • It was too site specific for this location

I edited it down to about 5 minutes and I realised, too late, that it therefore meant nothing!

Don’t change the work for the venue!!!

I also submitted Ordnance Survey ( re-made after it was stolen from the Trig Point)

The curator, Dale,  was very interested at submission and helpful with providing a plinth which served as a make-shift Trig Point for display of the laminates fixed on to the chain and padlock. I also submitted a couple of Images of the Scopes for context. I couldn’t take photographs during the submission so here is a reminder



They weren’t really geared up for viewing video submissions without me taking in my own projector for viewing and the other video sketch, Michaelmas was labelled a month before the making cut off date….Daft..

Lots of lessons learnt and this time none of the work was accepted.

When I returned to pick up, though, I did get some feedback despite this not usually being given…

They were fascinated by the work which provoked a lot of discussion, especially as it relates to local history…..but they felt it was not appropriate for the exhibition, only as a Site-Specific work, rather than a piece with documentation from Periscope images.

Good to get the work seen if only by the panel and cause a discussion

What was also interesting is that I happened to have the Flash Drive in my bag when I went to teach at the Care Home, got into a conversation with one of the Staff and lent her the stick.

She was fascinated by both pieces of video and ‘got’ them without any real explanation… A useful crit. from an unexpected viewer….

Maybe I’ll unleash some other work on them next time….things may have changed by then…